The Pipeline Safety Act, a bill that aims to improve federal oil and gas pipeline safety regulation, passed the House, U.S. Rep. Lois Capps’ office announced on June 8.
Capps, D-Santa Barbara, authored the bill after last year’s Refugio oil spill, the consequences of which are still playing out throughout the Tri-Counties.
This bill aims to provide the federal oversight entity, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, with emergency order authority to appropriately respond to systemic pipeline issues, Capps said. It would potentially finalize rules for things like automatic shutoff valves, which Plains All American Pipeline’s Line 901 lacked, and leak detection, she said.
“Two and a half million miles of energy pipelines run throughout communities all over the United States, often unnoticed or neglected until they fail,” Capps said in a news release. “My district saw this first-hand last year when Plains’s Line 901 spilled thousands of gallons of oil onto Refugio Beach and into the ocean, due to excessive corrosion.”
The insulated Line 901 was heavily corroded, investigators found, and this legislation would require analysis on causes of corrosion, prevention practices and the risk of insulated pipelines.
It would expand the classification of “unusually sensitive areas,” which is a classification federal regulators use to measure safety requirements. Ultimately, it could mandate more frequent pipeline inspections, Capps said.
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