THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
For Immediate Release
April 11, 2000
VICE PRESIDENT GORE ANNOUNCES COMPREHENSIVE LEGISLATION TO
IMPROVE PIPELEINE SAFETY
Bill Would Strengthen Enforcement and Community
"Right to Know"
WASHINGTON, DC--Vice President Gore today proposed
comprehensive new legislation to improve the safety of oil and gas pipelines
across the country, and to strengthen citizens' right to know about
pipelines in their communities.
The proposed legislation, the Pipeline Safety and
Community Protection Act of 2000, would reauthorize and strengthen the U.S.
Department of Transportation's (DOT) pipeline safety program. The
legislation would increase safety measures and inspections in heavily populated
and environmentally sensitive areas, increase penalties for safety violations,
and expand research to develop innovative pipeline inspection tools.
"Pipelines criss-cross our country, carrying the
fuel that powers our homes, our cars, and our factories. These pipelines are
vital to our economy, but without adequate safeguards, they can pose a serious
threat to our families, and to our environment," the Vice President said. "Our
proposed legislation will establish strong, comprehensive pipeline safety
measures, backed by rigorous enforcement, and the best technology available. It
also guarantees every community's right to know where these pipelines are
and how well they are maintained."
The proposed legislation would require pipeline
operators to establish comprehensive inspection and repair programs to prevent,
and reduce the impact of, pipeline failures. Programs would have to be in place
within a year for highly populated areas and for places where a pipeline
failure would pose the greatest threat to drinking water sources, wetlands, or
other environmentally sensitive areas.
The bill also gives federal and
state regulators more authority to take action following a pipeline spill, and
increases by as much as four times the penalties for violations to help ensure
that pipeline companies perform necessary testing and repairs to pipeline
damage. In addition, the bill allows for citizen suits to seek penalties for
Building on the Administration's strong
commitment to community "right to know" efforts, the bill would make it easier
for residents, businesses and government officials to get information about
pipelines in their communities. It mandates public access to information about
the location and safety of pipelines, and requires that pipeline maps be made
available to state and local emergency response authorities.
To help detect problems before pipelines fail, the
bill provides for additional research to improve and develop innovative
pipeline inspection tools such as "smart pigs," camera-like devices that move
along inside a pipeline and allow operators to detect damage. Better monitoring
tools could speed up detection of damage to pipelines, such as tears, cracks
The bill also would strengthen the role of states
in ensuring pipeline safety, increasing federal grants for inspection of
interstate pipelines and for investigation of spills.
Currently, pipelines carry nearly 65 percent of
the petroleum and most natural gas transported in the United States. The
DOT's Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) oversees the
pipeline safety program that creates safety regulations for pipelines and
penalizes pipeline companies whose operations fail to meet government safety
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