WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15), a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), today participated in a public roundtable discussion on pipeline safety issues in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania hosted by U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster (PA-9), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials. At the forum, members of the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation discussed pipeline safety with industry representatives, as well as federal, state, and local officials, including Mayor Ed Pawlowski of Allentown.

“In light of last month’s deadly natural gas explosion in Allentown, which claimed the lives of five of my constituents, I was particularly interested in learning more about the aging pipelines located in Pennsylvania’s cities,” Congressman Dent said. “Much of the pipeline infrastructure in Allentown consists of cast iron pipelines. If aging cast iron systems expose communities to greater safety risks, it is important that federal, state and local authorities work together to facilitate thorough inspections of older pipes and replace those found to be deteriorating.”

“It is important for us as elected representatives and policy makers to get an on-the-ground assessment of the important issues that affect communities and businesses where pipelines are concerned” Shuster said. “There is a limit on what you can accomplish at a distance from Washington, DC and I was pleased to hear from such a diverse set of participants at today’s roundtable.”

“Pipelines are critical to Pennsylvania’s economy,” Shuster continued. “Our state has a tremendous opportunity to develop the Marcellus Shale, create jobs and transform our economy. This cannot happen without pipelines that bring gas to markets in our region and we must make sure our network infrastructure is safe and up to the task.”

Dent and Shuster were joined by Pennsylvania Representatives Lou Barletta (PA-11), Jim Gerlach (PA-6), Patrick Meehan (PA-7). 

"Today's discussion serves as the beginning of an important dialogue on the ways to improve pipeline safety in our Commonwealth and our country," Barletta said. "As Pennsylvania strives to become a leader in energy production, we have a responsibility to step up to the plate and find ways to improve our pipeline infrastructure while keeping our communities safe."

“The safety of the approximately 700 miles of pipeline that snake throughout Chester County is critical to providing communities with peace of mind and helping meet our  nation’s demand for home-grown energy,” Gerlach said. “I want to thank Chairman Shuster for engaging stakeholders in a discussion about reasonable approaches to addressing issues surrounding the safety and security of a vital part of Pennsylvania’s infrastructure.”

“I appreciate this opportunity to join my colleagues for a productive discussion about addressing the need to secure Pennsylvania’s pipelines,” said Meehan.  “Today we focused on finding real solutions, getting answers, ensuring accountability, and determining the best way to move forward.  While pipeline accidents have seen a decline over the past decade, recent tragic events in Allentown and Philadelphia highlight the need for continued federal cooperation. I look forward to working with Chairman Shuster and other members of the subcommittee on addressing this important issue.”