Construction Industry News

Pipeline Safety in the Great Lakes: Incident Prevention and Response Efforts at the Straits of Mackinac

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) will convene a field hearing titled, “Pipeline Safety in the Great Lakes: Incident Prevention and Response Efforts at the Straits of Mackinac,” on Monday, August 20th, at 10:00 a.m. in Traverse City, Michigan. The hearing will focus on  federal oil spill prevention efforts, preparedness and response capability in the event of an oil pipeline break in the Straits of Mackinac. Line 5, the 65-year-old pipeline crossing the Straits of Mackinac, has been the subject of multiple safety concerns, including damage from anchor strikes.

Peters is a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and serves as Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security. The Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the federal agency tasked with overseeing pipeline safety throughout our nation’s extensive pipeline system, including the Great Lakes. It also has jurisdiction over the U.S. Coast Guard, which plays a leading role in overseeing the federal and state response to oil spills, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which provides scientific support for oil spill prevention, response and restoration.

 
Witnesses:

Panel I:

  • The Honorable Howard “Skip” Elliott, Administrator, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
  • Rear Admiral Joanna Nunan, Ninth District Commander, United States Coast Guard
  • Mr. Scott Lundgren, Emergency Response Division Chief, Office of Response and Restoration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Panel II:

  • Mr. David Bryson, Senior VP Operations, Liquid Pipelines, Enbridge Inc.
  • Mr. Michael Shriberg, Executive Director, National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center
  • Mr. David Murk, Manager of Pipelines, Midstream and Industry Operations, American Petroleum Institute
  • Mr. Chris Hennessy, Business Development Representative, Michigan Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust (LECET)
  • Mr. Larry Bell, Founder and Owner, Bells Brewery

* Witness list and panels are subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Monday, August 20, 2018
10:00 a.m.
Full committee

The Dennos Museum Center
Milliken Auditorium
1701 E. Front Street (For GPS Directions, enter: 1410 College Drive)
Traverse City, MI 49686  

Witness testimony and opening statements will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov. Media interested in attending the event should contact Allison Green or Zade Alsawah atmedia@peters.senate.gov.  

Committee Announces Hearing for Presidential Nominees

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing at 10: 15 a.m. on Thursday, August 23, 2018, to consider three presidential nominees.

Completed nomination questionnaires are available at www.commerce.senate.gov/nominations  


Witnesses:

  • Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, of Oklahoma, to be the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy
  • Mr. James “Jim” Morhard, of Virginia, to be Deputy Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Mr. Joel Szabat, of Maryland, to be Assistant Secretary for Aviation and Internal International Affairs at the Department of Transportation

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Thursday, August 23, 2018
10: 15 a.m.
Full Committee 

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

Oversight of the Federal Communications Commission

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing titled “Oversight of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC),” at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, August 16, 2018. As part of the committee’s oversight responsibilities, this hearing will examine policy issues before the Commission and review the FCC’s ongoing duties and activities. 

“From efforts to better utilize spectrum powering our wireless economy to expanding rural broadband access, combatting robocalls, and reviewing the media landscape, the FCC and its operations are critically important,”said Thune. “This hearing will offer Senators the opportunity to ask commissioners questions about topics of critical importance to their states and constituents.”

Witnesses:

  • The Honorable Ajit Pai, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission
  • The Honorable Michael O’Rielly, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission
  • The Honorable Brendan Carr, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission
  • The Honorable Jessica Rosenworcel, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission 

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Thursday, August 16, 2018
10:00 a.m.
Full Committee 

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

<p>Welcome to today&rsquo;s hearing on

Welcome to today’s hearing on oversight of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

At prior oversight hearings, I have stressed the importance of reauthorizing the FCC – something that hadn’t been done in nearly 30 years.

Reversing more than a quarter century of legislative inaction took time and effort, but I’m glad to say that, with bipartisan, bicameral support, we’ve now accomplished this goal.

Signed into law in March as part of the spending bill, the RAY BAUM’s Act not only reauthorized the FCC, it also included important spectrum, infrastructure, and broadband deployment provisions, including the MOBILE NOW Act, that will help pave the way for American leadership in the race to 5G.

Under Chairman Pai’s leadership, the FCC has also taken action in a number of areas to help free up more spectrum for wireless use, streamline broadband deployment, and bridge the digital divide – particularly in rural states like my home state of South Dakota.

I commend the Commission for these reforms and look forward to discussing your vision for building on these important steps.

Yet, as we all recognize, work remains to bring service to those areas that lack access to a viable broadband option.

Among other challenges, rural areas of the country face continuing uncertainty and reductions in universal service funding.

I appreciate that, under Chairman Pai, the Commission has finally undertaken the long-overdue task of trying to ensure adequate support for the deployment of broadband in such areas. Nevertheless, providers need certainty as they plan for the deployments that will bring service to rural America now and in the decades to come.

Put simply, the Commission needs to act this year to address funding for legacy and model-based high cost support.

Looking ahead, providers also need access to additional spectrum in the global race to deploy next generation wireless technology.

As this Committee heard just a few weeks ago, the United States is engaged in a high-stakes race with China, South Korea, and others for leadership in 5G. It’s critical that the United States win this race, and the jobs and investment that come with victory.

The Commission has made real progress with high-band spectrum, and we look forward to related auctions beginning this year. At the same time, the Commission must act quickly to make more mid-band spectrum available for 5G before we fall further behind.

And, as important as additional spectrum allocations will be for next generation broadband networks such as 5G, streamlining deployment processes is also critical.

I applaud the Commission and in particular Commissioner Carr’s efforts to remove barriers to broadband deployment. A number of states have adopted legislation to streamline the deployment of small wireless facilities, but the inherently borderless nature of broadband internet access warrants discussion of a national framework.

The bipartisan STREAMLINE Act that I introduced in June with Senator Schatz is meant to stimulate this discussion. Striking the right balance between accelerating broadband deployment and preserving local authority will be an ongoing focus of this Committee.

I look forward to hearing about the Commission’s complementary efforts to accelerate deployment, and how uniform national processes can help bring the benefits of 5G to all areas and not just those where the cost equation makes deployment easier.

In the end, American consumers will be the beneficiaries of these efforts. They are—and must remain—at the forefront of the FCC’s decision making across its many responsibilities.

For instance, it is important that the FCC put consumers first as the media landscape continues to dramatically change and grow.

The FCC must also continue its efforts to protect consumers from fraudulent and unwanted robocalls, which remain among the top consumer complaints.

Now that the D.C. Circuit has found many Wheeler-era Telephone Consumer Protection Act rules unreasonably expansive, arbitrary, and capricious, the real work of protecting consumers and restoring reason to TCPA rules has begun.

Consumers must have meaningful rights to control who can call them using automated

calling technology. We must also ensure that those trying in good faith to comply with the law in reaching their patients and customers have a reasonable means of doing so without facing potentially devastating litigation.

And we must make sure the Commission and law enforcement have the tools and incentives they need to go after the scammers and thieves bombarding us with illegal and unwanted calls.

Finally, before I close, I want to acknowledge the unprecedented measures the Commission has taken under Chairman Pai’s leadership to improve the openness and transparency of Commission processes.

Publicly releasing drafts of items the FCC plans to vote on weeks prior to doing so has made both the process and products at the FCC better and more available to the American people.

The same applies when the Commission makes mistakes. Along those lines, a recent FCC Inspector General Report about an alleged attack on the Commission’s comment filing system found that “the FCC, relying on [then-Chief Information Officer David] Bray’s explanation of the events, misrepresented facts and provided misleading responses to Congressional inquiries related to this incident.”

As you know, it is absolutely critical that the information provided to Congress and to the American people be correct. I look forward to hearing how the Commission will prevent this in the future.

I thank the distinguished witnesses for being here today and for working with the Committee on many of these important issue. I look forward to a robust discussion.

I’ll now turn to Ranking Member Nelson for any remarks.

Ranking Member Bill Nelson Opening Statement

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for calling today’s hearing.  The FCC majority certainly has been busy over the last eighteen months.

The FCC has been busy:

  • Abdicating the agency’s statutory authority to protect consumers on the internet.
  • Paving the way for unprecedented broadcast consolidation.
  • Proposing to eliminate rules that make quality educational content for kids readily-available on free, over-the-air television.
  • Gutting a program designed to help low-income Americans afford phone and internet services.

The bottom line here is this FCC has been busy removing consumer protections in almost every industry segment you regulate.

What we haven’t seen is progress in actually closing the digital divide.

Access to broadband is often the number one issue in rural counties in Florida.  From Gilchrist, Dixie and Levy counties to urban Jacksonville, many Floridians still do not have access to affordable, quality high-speed internet service. 

In these areas, students lack the ability to complete their homework, small businesses cannot compete and social and political engagement is hampered.  These Floridians deserve the same opportunities as everyone else.

On behalf of those Floridians – who are part of the 24 million Americans on the wrong side of the digital divide – we need real solutions for getting quality, affordable broadband in those areas.

It’s going to take more than cynical lipservice to solve this problem.  And it definitely will not be solved – as some seem to believe -- by repealing essential protections to preserve the free and open internet.  And I remind you, those rules were popular with millions of Americans and were upheld in their entirety by the courts. Now a bipartisan majority of the United States Senate has decisively repudiated that action through a Congressional resolution of disapproval.

That formal censure should give the FCC pause.  It should spur regulatory humility in all actions taken by the agency.

We – and the American people – expect more from our independent regulators.

The FCC’s actions directly impact the lives of so many.  The FCC can make a difference - when you focus on the greater public interest, not on fulfilling the wish lists of a few large companies.

I am an optimist by nature.  The FCC can and should do better – particularly with robust oversight from this committee.  

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Peters to Hold Commerce Committee Field Hearing on Pipeline Safety in the Great Lakes

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) will convene a field hearing titled, “Pipeline Safety in the Great Lakes: Incident Prevention and Response Efforts at the Straits of Mackinac,” on Monday, August 20th, at 10:00 a.m. in Traverse City, Michigan. The hearing will focus on federal oil spill prevention efforts, preparedness and response capability in the event of an oil pipeline break in the Straits of Mackinac. Line 5, the 65-year-old pipeline crossing the Straits of Mackinac, has been the subject of multiple safety concerns, including damage from anchor strikes.

Peters is a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and serves as Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security. The Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the federal agency tasked with overseeing pipeline safety throughout our nation’s extensive pipeline system, including the Great Lakes. It also has jurisdiction over the U.S. Coast Guard, which plays a leading role in overseeing the federal and state response to oil spills, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which provides scientific support for oil spill prevention, response and restoration.
 
Witnesses:

Panel I:
  • The Honorable Howard “Skip” Elliott, Administrator, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
  • Rear Admiral Joanna Nunan, Ninth District Commander, United States Coast Guard
  • Mr. Scott Lundgren, Emergency Response Division Chief, Office of Response and Restoration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Panel II:
  • Mr. David Bryson, Senior VP Operations, Liquid Pipelines, Enbridge Inc.
  • Mr. Michael Shriberg, Executive Director, National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center
  • Mr. David Murk, Manager of Pipelines, Midstream and Industry Operations, American Petroleum Institute
  • Mr. Chris Hennessy, Business Development Representative, Michigan Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust (LECET)
  • Mr. Larry Bell, Founder and Owner, Bells Brewery

* Witness list and panels are subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Monday, August 20, 2018
10:00 a.m. 
Full committee

The Dennos Museum Center
Milliken Auditorium
1701 E. Front Street (For GPS Directions, enter: 1410 College Drive)
Traverse City, MI 49686

Witness testimony and opening statements will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov. Media interested in attending the event should contact Allison Green or Zade Alsawah atmedia@peters.senate.gov.  

Thune Statement on Administration’s Vehicle Fuel Economy Standards Announcement

“Manufacturers must continue efforts to make vehicles more fuel efficient and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but federal regulations shouldn’t compromise safety or force consumers to drive vehicles they don’t want to or can’t afford to buy. The SAFE Vehicles proposal offers the public an important opportunity to consider new information about the safety realities of smaller and lighter vehicles in collisions as part of a more informed conversation about achievable fuel economy standards.”

Committee Approves Seven Bills, Surface Transportation Board Nomination

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation today, approved seven bills, and one nominee to the Surface Transportation Board, subject to Senate confirmation.

Executive Session

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold an executive session on Wednesday, August 1, 2018 at 9:45 a.m. to consider the following legislative measure and nominations.

Click here for additional information on nominees.

Agenda:

1.     S. 3277, Space Frontier Act of 2018, Sponsors: Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.)

2.      S. 2242, the COASTAL Implementation Act of 2017, Sponsor: Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)

3.      S. 2773, the Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act, Sponsors: Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)

4.      S. 2861, Passenger Rail Crew Protection Parity Act, Sponsors: Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.)

5.      S. 3119, the Endangered Salmon Predation Prevention Act, Sponsors: Sens. James Risch (R-Idaho), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)

6.      S. 3143, the National Quantum Initiative Act, Sponsors: Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)

7.      S. 3265, Waterfront Community Revitalization and Resiliency Act, Sponsor: Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.)

8.      S. 3273, Port Operations, Research, and Technology Act, Sponsor: Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)

9.      Nomination of Rick Dearborn, of Oklahoma, to be a Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors

10.    Nomination of Martin Oberman, of Illinois, to be a Member of the Surface Transportation Board

*Agenda subject to change

Executive Session Details:

Wednesday, August 1, 2018
9:45 a.m.
Full Committee Markup
Senate Dirksen Building, Room G50
 
A live video of the markup and additional information will be available at www.commerce.senate.gov

<span>Good morning. Thank you all for

Good morning. Thank you all for being here. Today we have another full agenda with seven legislative items and one nomination.

I’m especially pleased that we’ll consider the National Quantum Initiative Act, which Ranking Member Nelson and I introduced with our House Science Committee colleagues, Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Johnson.

They recently passed their measure through Committee and are looking for House floor consideration in the fall. I am hopeful our bill can follow a similar path in the Senate.

Advancing quantum science has immense economic and national security implications for the United States. This legislation will establish a national quantum program and keep us ahead of our competitors, including China, in the race to develop technological breakthroughs based on quantum science.

We will also be considering the nomination of Martin Oberman to the Surface Transportation Board.

I am hopeful that, once we act on Mr. Oberman’s nomination today, the full Senate can move quickly to confirm the other two STB nominees pending on the floor and we can finally have a full slate of five Board members.

I am disappointed that we are not also considering Rick Dearborn’s nomination to the Amtrak Board of Directors today, but I understand that some members have requested additional time before we proceed.

He is a well-qualified nominee with a passion for public service and passenger rail. I look forward to considering him at the Committee’s next markup.

With that, I will turn to Senator Nelson for any opening remarks.

Ranking Member Bill Nelson Opening Statement

Mr. Chairman, we have a full slate before us.

I’m proud to join with Senators Cruz and Markey in carrying on our tradition of bipartisan space legislation with the Space Frontier Act.

 The bill updates commercial launch and Earth observation regulations, extends the ISS through 2030 and expands opportunities for partnerships with NASA under the agency’s enhanced use lease authority.  

And for companies who are experimenting with exciting new commercial activities in space, the bill clarifies that they can continue to seek authorization through the Department of Transportation’s Payload Review Process while Congress ponders more expansive changes to agency authorities.

This is going to provide a nice boost for our growing space economy and the twenty-first century jobs that go along with it.

I am also pleased to join you, Chairman Thune, on the National Quantum Initiative Act. This bill will create a new focus on quantum research.

It is critical that the United States start growing our investments in quantum research if we are going to keep pace with China, the E.U. and others.

Winning the quantum race will benefit the U.S. economy and national security.

Finally, a quick note on Senator Wicker’s ports bill.  He and I have worked on this together and I want to thank him for his thoughtful approach. 

I appreciate the feedback from maritime labor industries on this bill and look forward to continuing to work on a bipartisan basis to seek improvements that will help safeguard maritime jobs. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Search for Life: Utilizing Science to Explore our Solar System and Make New Discoveries

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, will convene a hearing titled “The Search for Life: Utilizing Science to Explore our Solar System and Make New Discoveries,” at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 1, 2018. The second in a series of hearings leading up to a potential NASA reauthorization, this hearing will focus on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) scientific priorities in space exploration. 

Witnesses:

  • Dr. Sara Seager, Professor of Physics and Planetary Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology  
  • Dr. David Spergel, Professor of Astronomy, Princeton University
  • Dr. Ellen Stofan, Director, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
  • Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, NASA

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Wednesday, August 1, 2018
2:30 p.m.
Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness 

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

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I am glad to convene this hearing with my good friend and colleague, Ranking Member Schatz. 

The internet as we know it has become one of the most important inventions in our nation’s history.  We use it for just about everything.  Thanks to infrastructure investments and ingenuity, the internet is now an economic engine driving job creation and unprecedented access to information and opportunities.  In a short time, the World Wide Web has transformed into a global, interconnected information superhighway facilitating growth, freedom, and economic prosperity. 

The multi-stakeholder governing model has been key to the internet’s development across the world.  This model has fostered the creation of a dynamic internet economy that promotes investment and innovation.  We owe many of the cutting-edge products and services we enjoy today to the internet economy.   

Underpinning this economy is internet data.  As the internet grows and more people – and things – become connected, the volume, quality, and variety of internet data increases.  This is driving the development of new businesses and services, and it is enhancing online experiences for consumers.  Internet data is an essential commodity for businesses to compete and grow in the global digital market. 

The importance of internet data has not gone unnoticed internationally.  In fact, it has expanded the focus of the conventional internet governing agenda.  Traditionally, internet governance has centered on the formation of policies and rules dedicated to the internet’s technical development across jurisdictions.  While this remains an important function and primary focus, the increasing value of data has shifted attention to the collection, use, movement, and overall treatment of internet data.  The rise of data localization rules, involving how data can be processed in a certain territory or jurisdiction, along with local content requirements, internet censorship policies, and cybersecurity laws are a few examples of this growing trend. 

Policies targeting data and networks often stem from a country’s interest in fostering its own innovation or protecting its people from possible data misuse. But here’s a new problem, the global nature of the internet means that the impact and power of these laws goes beyond a jurisdiction’s borders.  U.S. companies compelled to change business models or alter operations to achieve compliance in foreign markets, and they are experiencing disruptions in their own domestic operations as well.  The result is less job creation, less investment, and less innovation in the United States. 

Consumers are feeling the effects of international internet policies, also.  Overly restrictive limitations on data movement or inconsistencies across jurisdictions ultimately deliver an internet experience to consumers that is less personalized and more expensive to access. 

Today, we look forward to examining the impact of global internet policies on U.S. businesses and consumers as well as the continued development of the internet around the world.  I would mention that I am Chairman of the Helsinki Commission, and as part of the Commission’s mission, we promote economic cooperation overseas, and so I also look forward to discussing the appropriate role that Congress should play in enhancing international coordination on the future of internet policies and empowering U.S. businesses to prosper in today’s global internet marketplace.  This is critically important to maintaining U.S. leadership in data-driven innovation and internet technologies for years to come. I welcome the witnesses here today and will introduce them in a moment after we have heard an opening statement from Senator Schatz. 

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