This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
NATION & WORLD


Thursday, December 15, 2011 ■ Page 11 Houses passes pipeline safety bill


By JOAN LOWY Associated Press


WASHINGTON — The House passed


a bill Dec. 12 that doubles the maximum fi ne for pipeline safety violations, but ig- nores several key recommendations aris- ing from investigations of deadly natural gas explosions and high-profi le oil spills over the past two years. The compromise bill was passed by a


voice vote. Senate action is expected this week.


The bill extends federal safety over-


sight of 2.3 million miles of gas, oil and other liquid pipelines through 2015. It also doubles the maximum fi ne for safe- ty violations to $2 million and authoriz- es the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to hire 10 more safety inspectors. That’s far fewer new inspectors than most safety experts say the agency needs. The bill also doesn’t include several


safety recommendations made by the National Transportation Safety Board in response to a Sept. 9, 2010, gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, Calif., that killed eight people, injured 58 others and dam-


aged or destroyed more than 100 homes. The board blamed the accident on a series of failures by one of the nation’s largest natural gas companies, Pacifi c Gas & Electric Co., but it also said weak federal and state oversight contributed to the tragedy.


The bill is “a very modest step considering the numerous terrible accidents over the past two years, but better a step forward


than no step at all.” – Pipeline Safety Trust Vice President Rick Kessler


The bill would allow the transpor- tation secretary to require that newly constructed pipelines include automatic shutoff valves that isolate a section of pipe in event of a rupture, preventing further gas or liquid from escaping. But


the NTSB said the valves are especially needed on aging pipelines in highly pop- ulated areas. Pipeline operators don’t want to be forced to install valves in those areas because it costs signifi cantly more to install valves on lines already in place than lines being newly laid. In the San Bruno accident, gas con-


tinued to escape for nearly 90 minutes after the rupture, feeding a giant pillar of fi re that was at times 80 feet high. In- vestigators said the damage would have been less severe had automatic valves been in place. The bill would require federal regula-


tors hold off for at least 21/2 years before they issue new rules to require pipeline operators to inspect the structural integ- rity of major transmission lines in lightly populated areas. But the bill has a caveat that allows regulations to be issued if the transportation secretary determines there’s a public safety risk. The bill would also bar regulators


from setting standards for industry on detecting leaks for at least two years. Lawmakers said they wanted more time for Congress and the administra- tion to study some of the safety issues.


Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of


the House Transportation and Infra- structure Committee’s pipelines sub- committee, said the bill “builds on our strong commitment to ensuring the continued safety of our nation’s pipeline system” while providing “the regulatory certainty necessary for industry to make investments and create American jobs.” Safety


advocates said they were


pleased to see the bill pass since getting the Republican-controlled House to ap- prove any new regulation of industry is diffi cult, but their enthusiasm for the bill was lukewarm. The bill is “a very modest step con-


sidering the numerous terrible accidents over the past two years, but better a step forward than no step at all,” said Rick Kessler, vice president of the Pipeline Safety Trust, a safety advocacy group. Other accidents over the past two


years have included gas pipeline explo- sions in Philadelphia and Allentown, Pa., and oil pipeline spills that fouled the Kalamazoo River near Marshall, Mich., and the Yellowstone River near Billings, Mont.


LLC Roper Pumps


CUSTOMER APPRECIATION DAY DECEMBER 20TH - ALL DAY


STOREWIDE SPECIALS, DOOR PRIZES, LUNCH WILL BE PROVIDED


Aliarc Bumpers


Come In To See Our Wide Variety Of Truck/ Trailer Parts Including: Aliarc Bumpers, Roper, Bowie, And Challenger Pumps, Eaton Motors, Tire Chains, PT Couplings, Load And Hydraulic Hoses, Hydraulic Coolers, And Much More


Hydra Coolers


NORTH ON HIGHWAY 22 OUT OF DICKINSON, TURN EAST AT WELL PRO, THEN HEAD 1/4 MILE OVER THE RIDGE


www.meyerind.com • 701-225-7145 Tire Chains PT Couplings


Merritt Tool Boxes


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16