Page 22 - Mississippi 811 Magazine 2021 Issue 1
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December 29, 2020, President Trump signed the ‘‘Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021’’ (H.R. 133 – the “Omnibus Bill” https://www.govinfo. gov/content/pkg/BILLS-116hr133enr/ pdf/BILLS-116hr133enr.pdf). The Omnibus Bill HAD to be signed to allow COVID-19 benefits to continue relatively uninterrupted and to avoid
a government shutdown. The total
cost authorized was something like $2 trillion. My impression is that the vast majority of that funding had nothing
to do with COVID relief or continuing government operations. (i.e., there is LOTS of pork). In draft, the Omnibus Bill is said to have been close to 5,600 pages and was provided to our elected representatives only hours before they had to vote. My guess is that not one single elected representative that voted on the “package” actually was able to read it before they voted.
Included was the “Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2020” or the “PIPES Act of 2020”. The PIPES Act of 2020 only consumed 34 pages of
the 2,124 pages published at the link provided above. The GOOD NEWS is that PIPES Act of 2020 got passed and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) will continue to operate as usual. The BAD
Pipeline Safety
NEWS is that PHMSA will continue
to operate as usual. My guess is that the individuals that actually wrote the PIPES Act of 2020 have never even seen a pipeline, much less tried to design, construct, operate and maintain a pipeline. Fortunately, most PHMSA and state pipeline safety program inspectors have at least some training and experience relevant to pipelines. The individuals that wrote the PIPES Act of 2020 undoubtedly had plenty of input from PHMSA, from state pipeline safety programs, from pipeline safety activists, perhaps from the pipeline industry, and most certainly from politicians. There are many laudable goals included in the PIPES Act of 2020. The only thing that is virtually certain is that it will take
a LONG time before anything really changes. Furthermore, it is the “boots on the ground” that assure the safety of pipelines not the statutes or regulations. Read on.
Last year (2019) I mentioned Mike “Dirty Jobs” Rowe and his opinions regarding safety. He is now promoting a philosophy called “Safety Third”
that began as a good-natured attempt on Dirty Jobs to inject personal responsibility to temper the “Safety First” hoax that so many companies use to try to convince employees that the company cares more about employee safety than their employees do. To
by John Jacobi
paraphrase Smoky the Bear, “Only
YOU can prevent accidents!!” If you
are doing the work or are involved in getting the work done, it is up to YOU to assess the risks and find a way to reduce the risks to acceptable levels. You can be in compliance with every regulation ever written and Murphy can still rear his ugly head.
The current pandemic is a perfect example. I am in an “at risk” age group. I mask up when I have to go to the store or if I can’t socially distance (I don’t hear well so I often have to get close just to hear). I have given plasma or platelets five times since all this began and I don’t have any COVID antibodies. I don’t go near anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Period!! Do I believe lockdowns work? No way. Do I believe kids should be in school? Absolutely. Do I want to get “shamed” by the “Cancel Generation”? No way (but if they want to try – bring it on!!). So far I and my family have been blessed.
I hope and pray that this finds you healthy and that you stay that way. If you have to ask yourself if something is stupid, it probably is!! Use YOUR head!!
John Jacobi retired from PHMSA. For questions or comments, email:
20 • Mississippi 811 2021, Issue 1

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