Pipeline Safety Bill Reintroduced in Senate
Environment News Service
Original Story
8 March, 2002

Proposed ammendment to Senate energy bill S 517

WASHINGTON, DC, March 8, 2002 (ENS) - Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, today introduced a pipeline safety amendment to the Senate energy bill (S 517).

The amendment, which has 11 cosponsors, contains the same language as the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act passed more than a year ago by the full Senate. That act never became law because the House failed to take up the legislation.

McCain's amendment "is designed to promote both public and environmental safety by reauthorizing and strengthening our federal pipeline safety programs which expired in September 2000," McCain said in a statement on the Senate floor. "Our goal is to enact comprehensive legislation to promote pipeline safety for the public, the environment and the economy."

The Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) within the Department of Transportation (DOT) oversees the transport of about 65 percent of the petroleum and most of the natural gas that crosses the United States. The OPS regulates 3,000 gas pipeline operators with more than 1.6 million miles of pipeline, along with more than 200 hazardous liquid operators with 155,000 miles of pipelines.

"Given the immense array of pipelines that traverse our nation, reauthorization of our pipeline safety programs is critical to the safety and security of thousands of communities and millions of Americans nationwide," added McCain. "That is why it is appropriate to include pipeline safety provisions as a key component of any comprehensive energy legislation under consideration."

McCain and others pointed out several pipeline accidents that have harmed or killed members of the public in recent years.

For example, in September 2000, a bulldozer in Lubbock, Texas, ruptured a propane pipeline, resulting in the death of a police officer. On August 19, 2000, a natural gas transmission line ruptured in Carlsbad, New Mexico, killing 12 members of two families.

In total, 71 fatalities have occurred as a result of pipeline accidents over the past three years, McCain noted.

"I regret to report that just yesterday, there was a pipeline explosion near Jeffersonville, Kentucky," McCain added. "Thankfully, no fatalities have been reported, but I am informed it caused a fire so intense that it was picked up on a federal government satellite. Clearly, the amendment we are proposing is very timely."

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