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Pallone Unveils Major Pipeline Bill That Will Help Combat Climate Change, Improve Public Safety, and Hold Operators Accountable for Egregious Violations

November 15, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) introduced the “Safe, Accountable, Fair, and Environmentally Responsible (SAFER) Pipelines Act of 2019.” This comprehensive pipeline safety legislation takes numerous steps to improve pipeline safety and address climate change by reducing emissions, preventing pipeline leaks, and holding pipeline operators accountable for reckless actions. It also reinstates a 2016 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) final rule that set limitations on methane emissions across the natural gas and hazardous liquid pipeline sector. In 1994, a natural gas pipeline explosion in Edison, New Jersey caused the death of one woman and injured an estimated one hundred nearby residents. It is estimated that 300 individuals lost their homes as a result of the explosion.

 

“This comprehensive legislation will help protect people, the environment and our climate from unsafe pipelines,” Congressman Pallone said. “Pipelines should be the safest way to transport natural gas and oil, but they are not nearly as safe as they should be.  Despite the progress we’ve made on pipeline safety over the last 20 years, too much oil continues to spill into our environment, too many greenhouse gasses leak into our atmosphere and far too many people continue to die due to pipeline failures. Last month, the Keystone pipeline leaked nearly 400,000 gallons of oil onto farmland and wetlands.  This legislation rebalances the law in favor of people and the environment instead of corporations and profits.  It also helps protect our climate by reversing the Trump rollback of President Obama’s methane rules.  This is a bold bill that is necessary to make our pipelines safe and secure.” 

 

The SAFER Pipelines act of 2019 would make significant improvements to current law, including:

 

  • Requiring operators of gas pipeline facilities to use the best available technology to capture gas released when performing routine operations or maintenance;
  • Requiring automatic shutoff or remote-controlled valves on existing, new and replaced pipelines to mitigate the impact of incidents and protect first responders;
  • Requiring advanced leak-detection technology that can identify leak locations and amounts released on gas pipelines;
  • Increasing minimum civil penalties from $200,000 to $20 million per violation, allowing Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to hold operators accountable for particularly egregious violations;
  • Strengthening criminal penalties for operators who act recklessly;
  • Requiring operators to immediately repair major gas leaks on their pipeline systems;
  • Directing PHMSA to finalize a rule on gas gathering lines; and
  • Directing the National Academy of Sciences to study how regulations could be strengthened to protect earthquake-prone areas from pipeline failures.

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