Gas pipeline experts urged federal lawmakers to increase the safety of the country\u2019s natural gas pipeline system in a June 16 House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing. Safety has been front and center in both California and at the federal level since last year\u2019s deadly natural gas pipe blast in San Bruno and an accident earlier this year in Allentown, Pennsylvania. More smart pig inspections of natural gas pipes, clear standards for leak detection, and automatic shutoff valve requirements are at the top of the safety list for Carl Weimer, Pipeline Safety Trust executive director. He told the committee that calls by the Trust and other organizations for increased safety largely have gone unheeded for the last 12 years following a natural gas explosion in Bellingham, Washington, in 1999. \u201cSo here we are again, asking for the same thing we have asked for in previous hearings following previous tragedies,\u201d Weimer said. Enhancing the authority of the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to increase pipeline safety is the subject of pending legislation, S 275. Whether it goes far enough is a matter of debate, with Weimer and others insisting that PHMSA\u2019s enforcement, oversight, and funding should be increased. Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL) called the current version of the legislation \u201ca day late and a dollar short.\u201d He said the conservative majority was more interested in placating industry than increasing safety. Chris Helms, the International Gas Association of America safety task force chair, noted that aging gas pipes were not the biggest problem. \u201cAny pipeline--regardless of age--that is not fit for service should be repaired, replaced, or retired. The key to achieving real, sustainable improvement in pipeline safety is to identify and address issues that impact fitness for service,\u201d he said. He also warned about excavation dangers, which he said was \u201cthe single greatest threat.\u201d Under investigation is the impact of sewer replacement work near the site of San Bruno explosion.