California’s U.S. Senators introduced a bill today to strengthen pipeline oversight and increase penalties when federal pipeline regulations are violated, inspired by last September’s deadly San Bruno gas pipeline blast that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes.
It’s similar to a bill the Senators introduced last September; S.3824 was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation but was never heard before the 111th Congress drew to a close.
The new Strengthening Pipeline Safety and Enforcement Act of 2011, however, also would enforce recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released in early January.
“We must make sure the system of pipelines crisscrossing our country is safe. Americans shouldn’t have to worry that the pipes beneath their feet will suddenly explode, and no neighborhood should have to endure the tragedy that befell San Bruno,” U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said in a news release. “That is why we are introducing legislation that will improve the safety of pipelines and increase penalties for those who violate federal regulations.”
U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer said while San Bruno residents recover and rebuild, “we must do everything we can to protect our communities by increasing inspections of our nation’s pipelines while setting tougher penalties for safety violations.”
The legislation would:
The bill also includes provisions that would increase civil penalties for safety violations; expand data collection to be included in the national pipeline mapping system; close jurisdictional loopholes to assure greater oversight of unregulated pipelines; and require consideration of a firm’s safety record when considering its request for regulatory waivers.