January 29, 2023
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Bill would hold pipeline regulators responsible for safety oversight


Story updated at 2 p.m. on June 15:

U.S. Rep. Lois Capps’ office proposed a bill that strives to hold federal regulators responsible for inadequate pipeline safety oversight, the office announced June 14.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration Accountability Act is a provision of the Pipes Act, which recently passed the House and the Senate.

Capps co-authored the bill that would give communities a means to seek legal recourse against PHMSA if the agency fails to do its job. It is one of several pieces of legislation proposed after last year’s Refugio oil spill.

The Pipes Act was the product of a trio of bills, the Pipeline Safety Act, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s pipeline bill and the Senate’s Safe Pipes Act, that aims to reform pipeline oversight. The PHMSA Accountability Act passed the Senate on June 13.

“The PHMSA Accountability Act is a common-sense bill that would build on this progress by closing an important loophole and provide for adequate oversight of PHMSA to ensure that they are doing their job to protect public health, the environment, and local economies,” Capps said in a news release. “This bill would provide a way for communities to help do just that.”

PHMSA has yet to finalize new rules addressing automatic shutoff valves and leak detections systems — safety measures that could’ve prevented the Refugio oil spill, Capps said.

• Contact Alex Kacik at akacik@pacbiztimes.com.