Obama Signs Pipeline Safety Law

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 (UPI) — A new law governing oil and natural gas pipelines in the United States provides a strong framework to prevent future accidents, a House leader said.

U.S. President Barack Obama signed a measuring into law regulating oil and gas pipelines in the United States. U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House energy and commerce committee, said pipeline accidents during the last few years provided regulators with valuable lessons for the new law.

“This new law will provide a strong framework to keep pipelines safe now and into the future,” he said in a statement.

The measure doubles the maximum fine for pipeline safety violations to $2 million, deploys more inspectors and mandates automatic shut-off valves where “feasible.”

An oil pipeline carrying oil from tar sands ruptured in Michigan in 2010. Crews there are still cleaning up from the spill. Meanwhile, California utility Pacific Gas and Electric is coping with the fallout from a 2010 gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, Calif., that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes.

“This bill is a win for safety and a win for America’s communities,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. “And, by signing it into law on the first business day of the new year, President Obama has sent a clear message that this administration believes we can achieve greater safety and stronger economic growth at the same time.”

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