US Senate passes pipeline safety reauthorization

The US Senate Thursday approved a bill to revamp and reauthorize the nation�s pipeline safety laws. The legislation renews the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act and the Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Act through fiscal 2003. Both expire Sept. 30 unless Congress extends them.


Washington, DC�The US Senate Thursday approved a bill to revamp and reauthorize the nation�s pipeline safety laws. The legislation renews the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act and the Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Act through fiscal 2003. Both expire Sept. 30 unless Congress extends them.

The bill, drafted by the Senate Commerce Committee, would place more emphasis on safety measures for pipelines crossing environmentally sensitive or densely populated areas.

The legislation would quadruple the maximum daily civil penalty for pipeline safety violations to $100,000/day. And it would give states a greater role in inspecting and monitoring interstate pipelines. The legislation also would require the Office of Pipeline Safety to adopt several recommendations the Department of Transportation�s inspector general has made in recent years.

Publicity around pipeline ruptures last year in Bellingham, Wash., and last month in New Mexico facilitated passage of the bill. Leaders of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee have said they will draft a pipeline safety reauthorization measure this month but have not yet scheduled a hearing or a markup.

Jerald Halvorsen, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America president, said his group is pleased that the Senate could agree on a measure.

�This is a tougher bill than we anticipated. Once pipeline safety passes this Congress, our challenge will be to forge ahead to work with the Department of Transportation on a pipeline integrity rule.�

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