Committee sends Elliott’s nomination to lead PHMSA to Senate floor

The US Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee has approved Howard R. Elliott’s nomination to be the US Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s director by voice vote on Oct. 4, and sent it to the full Senate for final confirmation.

The US Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee has approved Howard R. Elliott’s nomination to be the US Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s director by voice vote on Oct. 4, and sent it to the full Senate for final confirmation.

The White House announced on Sept. 8 that President Donald J. Trump intended to nominate Elliott, who presently leads public safety, health, environment, and security operations for CSX Transportation in Jacksonville, Fla., to serve as the new administrator at the US Department of Transportation agency, which regulates interstate rail and pipeline operations (OGJ Online, Sept. 11, 2017).

In written testimony submitted for his Sept. 27 confirmation hearing before the committee, Elliott said his 40-year career in the US railroad industry has led him to believe that inspections and worker training are paramount to preventing accidents.

“In the same vein, I have worked tirelessly during my career to ensure that America’s emergency first responders are trained and prepared to handle such events safely,” he said. “I am especially proud of the innovative technology we developed and provided to state emergency management and homeland security officials, starting more than 15 years ago.”

The technology has allowed these officials to track in close to real-time CSX trains traversing their state and to quickly identify the commodities—both hazardous and nonhazardous—that the trains are carrying so they could be better prepared to respond to a security event or train emergency, Elliott said.

“I am interested in exploring how technology can be deployed in other ways to enhance safety on pipelines and other forms of transportation,” he said. “If confirmed, I would seek to encourage research and development efforts that will create and apply new and cutting-edge technology and automation to safety solutions.”

Elliott said he also would promote improvements in communications and outreach with all PHMSA stakeholders, ensuring regular, face-to-face interaction at all levels of government, industry, and the public. “Third, but not least, is to reinforce the necessity for quality and the sense of urgency of PHMSA’s safety inspection mandates and to enhance the value and support the agency provides to its partners at the state level,” he said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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