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Senate quickly follows House, passes pipeline safety bill

The US Senate moved quickly and unanimously approved federal pipeline safety legislation on Dec. 13 that the US House had passed by voice vote the previous day (OGJ Online, Dec. 13, 2011). HR 2845 now heads to the White House for US President Barack Obama’s signature.

Congress promptly took up and approved the bipartisan, bicameral measure following several conferences. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee leaders noted that it include several features from S. 275, including increased maximum fines for pipeline regulation violators and additional fines for obstructing investigations; a requirement for new pipelines to have automatic or remote-controlled shutoff valves; and a requirement for the US Transportation secretary to set time limits for pipeline operators to notify state and local governments and emergency responders of an accident or leak.

Oil and gas industry groups applauded the legislation’s progress. Peter Lidiak, the American Petroleum Institute’s pipeline director, noted that it takes important strides to protect pipelines from excavation damage by eliminating exemptions from advance notification requirements for state and local governments and their contractors.

“The oil and gas industry remains committed to continuous improvement in pipeline safety, while efficiently delivering more than 70% percent of the petroleum needed to run our country each year,” Lidiak said on Dec. 14. “We look forward to working with [the US Department of Transportation], the states and other stakeholders to implement the new law.”

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