Five industry groups urge US Congress to pass pipeline safety bill

By the OGJ Online Staff

WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 20 -- The leaders of five industry trade associations called on the US Congress Tuesday to quickly pass "an effective and responsible" bill to promote the safety of more than 2 million miles of oil and gas pipelines.

In a letter to US Department of Transportation Sec. Norman Mineta, pipeline industry officials said they want Congress and DOT to work together in a "unified fashion."

The Senate passed pipeline safety legislation earlier this year but the House has yet to act (OGJ Online, Oct. 1, 2001). Congress is on a 1-week break for the Thanksgiving holiday and is expected to adjourn Dec. 7.

Signing the letter were 14 oil and gas transmission and distribution pipeline companies and the leaders of five Washington-based trade groups: the American Gas Association, American Petroleum Institute, Association of Oil Pipe Lines, American Public Gas Association, and Interstate Natural Gas Association of America.

The groups also issued a position paper on pipeline safety regulation and legislation. They said the paper demonstrates the industry's strong commitment to a top-notch safety program and stresses the importance of public confidence as "a prerequisite for operating, upgrading, and expanding America's pipeline network to meet America's energy needs reliably with reasonably priced fuels."

The position paper outlines principles that should guide discussions regarding pipeline safety legislation. They were: increasing safety and enhancing public confidence in the nationwide pipeline network; providing for an adequately staffed and appropriately funded Office of Pipeline Safety; and recognizing and supporting DOT's timely regulatory actions to develop and implement new rules for enhancing pipeline integrity and ensuring pipeline operator job qualifications.

Last month the nonpartisan General Accounting Office warned Congress that DOT's Office of Pipeline Safety still has not met some National Transportation Safety Board recommendations, several of which are a decade old.

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