U.S. Examines Pipeline Safety Rules

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 (UPI) — A measure that would tighten rules and increase fines for oil and gas pipeline violations has gained bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress, a lawmaker said.

U.S. House of Representatives and Senate leaders agreed on the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act. It calls for tighter safety rules and would increase the maximum fine for safety violations from $1 million to $2 million.

“Pipeline safety is an issue that is important to all Americans, but it hits especially close to home for me as I have witnessed a pipeline tragedy in my home district,” U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House energy committee, said in a statement.

“To support a strong economy we need access to affordable energy supplies, but first and foremost, we need to ensure our energy supplies are transported safely.”

Pipeline company Enbridge is still working to clean up a spill of heavy Alberta crude in Upton’s home state of Michigan following last year’s rupture of Line 6B of the Lakehead system.

Last month, pressure tests on natural gas pipelines in California revealed a leak on a 24-inch pipe in Palo Alto, Calif. The leak was on a section of the pipeline that exploded in San Bruno, Calif., last year, killing eight people and destroying 38 homes.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is to hear from first responders, government officials and the pipeline industry about the best strategies to prepare for and respond to pipeline emergencies.

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