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PHMSA Administrator’s Awards Ceremony

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Remarks As Prepared for Delivery by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
PHMSA Administrator's Awards Ceremony
Washington, DC
Thursday, February 6, 2020

Thank you, Drue. You, Skip, and Mac are doing a great job.

One of the favorite parts of my job is recognizing the hard work of our career professionals. You play a critical role in ensuring the safety of our country’s 2.8 million-mile pipeline system and the 1.2 million shipments of hazardous materials shipped by air, rail, highway and waterway every day.

Amplifying your accomplishments and activities that further the Department’s mission is a key part of what I do.  I want to increase public awareness of PHMSA’s vital role in safeguarding our country’s pipelines and energy supplies.  And I’m especially interested in promoting PHMSA’s public safety campaigns.  To help achieve all this, one of my goals for the Department is to continually improve teamwork within modes and between the modes.  So please let me know, and let OST know, your ideas on this.      

The U.S. Department’s mission is vital for our Nation.  And it is noble.  That’s why I feel so privileged to be back here, after 27 years.   

Our 3 priorities at DOT are: first is safety. Second is rebuilding and refurbishing our country’s critical infrastructure. And third is preparing for the future by engaging with emerging technologies to address legitimate public concerns about safety, security, and privacy, without hampering innovation.

PHMSA continues to maintain an unwavering commitment to improving our #1 priority: safety. Last October 29, Skip and I were pleased to announce the appointees to the newly-formed Lithium Battery Safety Advisory Committee. The committee’s input will help the Department strengthen safety improvements to better protect shippers and travelers around the world.

PHMSA has also strengthened safety through the federal rulemaking process. On September 24th, 2019, PHMSA issued three major pipeline rules. And then again, during the week of January 12th of this year, you issued two more important pipeline safety rules. These rules are significant revisions to federal pipeline safety laws and will improve the safety of our nation’s energy infrastructure.

This has been a very productive few years for the U.S. when it comes to energy security and independence. And this year, for the first time in nearly half a century, our country is projected to become a net exporter of energy.

It’s not an overstatement that our country’s energy infrastructure, energy security, economic future, and quality of life depend on a safe and secure pipeline system. And an equally safe network is required for moving hazardous materials by all modes of surface transportation.

You have helped the rapid expansion in U.S. energy production and exportation. This has included the MOU signed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on August 31, 2018. The MOU has greatly accelerated LNG facility permitting, while adhering to the Department’s safety standards. PHMSA has now issued 14 Letters of Determination–more than double that of a year ago. Ensuring the safe, efficient delivery of LNG is critical as the U.S. becomes a leader in global energy production and a net energy exporter.

You are also working hard on the President’s Executive Order – “Promoting Energy Infrastructure and Economic Growth” – with updates to existing regulations for LNG facilities and new rules to allow LNG to be transported in approved rail cars.    

PHMSA’s robust partnerships, collaboration within the Department, and efforts to strengthen in-house expertise have contributed greatly to these efforts.

Skip Elliott has been leading a process to build cross-functional teams within PHMSA. Your Process Improvement Initiatives are making real headway in breaking down silos within the agency. And they are improving the way PHMSA experts work together to solve problems and accomplish its vital mission.

Another collaborative effort is the PHMSA Advanced Leadership Development Program. Together, we’re investing in PHMSA’s most valuable resource – human capital. 

Your work is more important than ever as our country becomes a leader.

Congratulations to today’s award recipients!  And a special congratulations to our Eagle Award recipients.

Thank you!

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