Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Senate Unit Votes for Bill Overhauling Pipeline Safety

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Senate Unit Votes for Bill Overhauling Pipeline Safety

Article excerpt

On June 15, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved, by voice vote, legislation intended to strengthen the nation's pipeline safety laws. Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) indicated that he is optimistic that the bill, S. 2438, would be considered by the full Senate this summer.

McCain introduced his legislation early this spring in response to growing grassroots support for a complete overhaul of current pipeline safety law. Supporters of pipeline safety reform stated that the actions of the Senate Commerce Committee are a "small first step" to ensure pipeline safety. Carl Weimer of SAFE Bellingham, an advocacy group established after the Olympic pipeline accident last June in Bellingham, Wash. that killed three young people, said "It was a weak reform bill to begin with, so we were glad to see a majority of senators resist industry attempts to weaken it further."

The McCain bill, which is cosponsored by both Washington state senators, would reauthorize the Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Act and the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act, which expire in September. The bill would require the Department of Transportation to adopt recommendations made by the departments Inspector General intended to protect highly populated and environmentally sensitive areas. The bill would also improve inspection procedures and help advance new safety technology.

NLC President Bob Knight, in a recent letter to the Senate, stressed the need for action on the reauthorization of the federal pipeline safety program and increased flexibility concerning states' regulatory rights. He stated, "We believe that enhanced federal pipeline safety regulations and increased state power to oversee pipelines are vital to ensure the safety of our citizens and protecting our environment. …

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