WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today announced more than $240,000 in federal funds to protect North Dakota families and communities by supporting the state’s pipeline safety programs.
“Keeping our pipelines safe will help keep communities across North Dakota safe,” said Heitkamp. “As energy development creates jobs and opportunity in North Dakota, I’ve been working to make sure we have the infrastructure and resources we need to maintain the strong, safe communities that make North Dakota exceptional. That includes my Strong & Safe Communities Initiative, which I’ve used to bring together leaders from across North Dakota to address emerging challenges – from pipeline safety and rail safety, to crime and emergency responder preparedness.”
Specifically, these funds will be used to reimburse the state of North Dakota for statewide public safety programs, such as inspection and enforcement of pipeline safety regulations, incident investigations and corrective actions to improve the safety and integrity of pipelines. These funds are authorized by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) – an agency Heitkamp has worked closely with following the derailment of a train carrying crude oil near Casselton in December 2013, and the train derailment near Heimdal in May 2015.
Since the derailment near Casselton in December 2013, and again following the second derailment near Casselton in November 2014 and Heimdal in May 2015, Heitkamp has worked closely with the DOT, PHMSA, and other federal, state, and local officials to push for improvements to make sure oil and gas travel safely. In April 2014, Heitkamp hosted U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx in Casselton and West Fargo, where they discussed North Dakota’s transportation infrastructure needs and reviewed a comprehensive plan to improve rail safety statewide.
Heitkamp has also focused on finding ways to provide first responders – in North Dakota and throughout the country – with the tools, training, and resources they need to respond to hazardous incidents. In May, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed Heitkamp’s RESPONSE Act, which she introduced to improve emergency preparedness and training for first responders and help better respond to hazardous incidents, such as crude oil train derailments and other hazardous materials situations.
Heitkamp launched her Strong & Safe Communities Initiative in 2014 to address emerging challenges throughout North Dakota in the wake of the state’s energy boom. In October 2015, Heitkamp brought together 150 North Dakota leaders for her Strong & Safe Communities Summit to discuss solutions to those obstacles, so leaders and their communities can build a strong future for the state.
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