WASHINGTON, D.C. — The pending nominee to be the next administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) will provide testimony at a U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation confirmation hearing on Wednesday, July 22 at 10:00 a.m. PHMSA has been without Senate-confirmed leadership since the previous administrator, Cynthia Quarterman, departed on October 4, 2014. President Barack Obama nominated Marie Dominguez on May 29, 2015.
“PHMSA has come under scrutiny as an ineffective safety regulator,” said U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Commerce Committee. “The lack of presidential nominations for critical safety positions has been a standing concern of the committee. We are pleased to have an opportunity to consider Ms. Dominguez’s nomination and her plans for addressing concerns about the performance of the agency she has been nominated to lead.”
Ms. Dominguez’s nomination questionnaire is available here.
Nomination Under Consideration:
Marie Therese Dominguez, to be Administrator, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), U.S. Department of Transportation
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Senate Russell Office Building, Room 253
Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on this page.
For reporters interested in reserving a seat, please contact the press gallery:
• Periodical Press Gallery – 202-224-0265
• Radio/Television Gallery – 202-224-6421
• Press Photographers Gallery – 202-224-6548
• Daily Press Gallery – 202-224-0241
Individuals with disabilities who require an auxiliary aid or service, including closed captioning service for the webcast hearing, should contact Stephanie Gamache at 202-224-5511 at least three business days in advance of the hearing date.
Chairman John Thune
"Today we will consider the nomination of Marie Therese Dominguez to be the next Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).
"PHMSA plays a key role in the infrastructure of the nation, and it is important that its senior leadership be in place to ensure accountability to Congress and an array of stakeholders as we seek to improve safety and maintain and expand the nation’s pipeline networks.
"These pipeline and related transportation networks fundamentally underpin our nation’s economy, so it is important that those who directly oversee these networks have the experience and skills necessary to manage this critical enterprise.
"The PHMSA Administrator position has been vacant since last October, when Cynthia Quarterman resigned. By the time President Obama finally announced his intention to nominate Ms. Dominguez on May 29, the post had been vacant for 237 days, well past the statutory time limit of 210 days contemplated by the Vacancies Act for a temporary appointment.
"The lack of presidential nominations for critical safety positions has been a standing concern of the Committee. For example, the White House dragged its feet in nominating someone to lead the Transportation Security Administration, prompting even the New York Times editorial page, normally quite deferential to the President, to express the opinion that “the Obama Administration has been disturbingly slow to give the TSA strong leadership at the top.”
"Thankfully, once the Administration nominated a qualified individual to lead the TSA, the Senate was able to act quickly to confirm the nominee, and Admiral Neffenger was sworn in at the TSA only two weeks ago.
"Unfortunately, the Administration has also been slow in nominating a qualified individual to lead PHMSA.
"During a Commerce Committee hearing back in March of this year, Senator Daines expressed concerns to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx that a PHMSA administrator nominee had yet to be named, and questioned when the PHMSA administrator position would be filled. Secretary Foxx was unable to shed any light on the delay or when a nominee could be expected.
"On May 6th, Politico published an article entitled, “President Obama’s pipeline safety agency waits for leader,” observing that “President Barack Obama has blown past the legal deadline to name a permanent boss for the agency that oversees the safety of the nation’s oil trains and fossil-fuel pipelines[.]”
"On May 20, 2015, ten Democratic Senators wrote a letter to President Obama calling on him to “act quickly” to nominate an administrator for PHMSA, and noting that the most recent permanent administrator left the position “more than 220 days ago.”
"It seems to take a chorus of inquiries from the media and the Administration’s allies for it to get around to nominating individuals to lead critically important safety agencies.
"I’m disappointed at the length of time it took for the president to send us a nominee for PHMSA, but he has finally sent us one.
"Ms. Dominguez appears to have substantial management experience while serving at the U.S. Postal Service and the Army Corps of Engineers, and we appreciate that service.
"However, I’m somewhat concerned that her accomplishments do not appear to indicate expertise or experience on issues regarding pipeline safety or hazardous materials safety. I will be asking Ms. Dominguez to respond to this concern during the hearing.
"I will also be asking Ms. Dominguez about her perspective on some of the challenges facing the nation’s pipeline infrastructure, as well as the challenges the agency is facing with respect to delays in reports and regulations mandated by the 2011 Pipeline Safety Act.
"Having said all of this, I would like to thank Ms. Dominguez for her willingness to serve the nation in this important role, and I look forward to her testimony.
"With that, I turn now to the distinguished ranking member for any remarks he would like to make."
Witness Panel 1
Ms. Marie Therese Dominguezto be Administrator, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)U.S. Department of Transportation