The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) oversees the safety of pipelines that transport natural gas or hazardous liquids and provides grants to states for programs to ensure pipeline safety. H.R. 4937 would require PHMSA to pursue a variety of regulatory and administrative activities related to such programs and would authorize appropriations for those purposes. The bill also would authorize PHMSA to establish safety standards for certain underground storage facilities for natural gas, assess fees on entities that operate such facilities, and spend such fees—subject to authority provided in advance in appropriation acts—to ensure that such facilities meet those standards.
CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 4937 would result in gross appropriations totaling $529 million over the 2017-2021 period. CBO also estimates that those appropriations would be offset by $410 million in fees paid by pipeline owners, which would be considered offsets to discretionary spending. Assuming appropriation actions consistent with the specified and estimated amounts, CBO estimates that the resulting net outlays would total $113 million over the 2017-2021 period.
In addition, CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 4937 would increase net revenues from assessments on entities that operate certain underground storage facilities by $17 million over the 2017-2026 period. Pay-as-you-go procedures apply because enacting the legislation would affect revenues. Enacting H.R. 4937 would not affect direct spending.
CBO estimates that enacting the legislation would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.
H.R. 4937 would impose intergovernmental and private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) by establishing new safety standards for natural gas storage facilities and pipelines and by imposing new fees. Based on information from PHMSA and industry sources, CBO estimates that the cost of the mandates on public entities would fall below the annual threshold established in UMRA for intergovernmental mandates ($77 million, adjusted annually for inflation). Primarily because one of the mandates on private entities would depend on future actions by the Secretary of Transportation, CBO cannot determine whether the aggregate cost of the mandates on private entities would exceed the annual threshold established in UMRA for private-sector mandates ($154 million in 2016, adjusted annually for inflation).