U.S. agency seeks tighter pipeline rules

Sept. 16, 2010 at 8:44 AM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Transportation announced it was proposing tighter regulations and stricter penalties governing oil and gas pipelines.

Two sections of the Lakehead pipeline network in Michigan and Illinois ruptured, spilling crude oil and disrupting regional supplies. A natural gas pipeline explosion in California, meanwhile, killed at least four people and destroyed 37 homes.

The Transportation Department in response to mounting concerns over regulation and safety said it proposed raising the penalty for serious pipeline violations from $1 million to $2.5 million.

Additional recommendations include expanding safety requirements to cover entire pipelines and tighter control over personnel conducting maintenance on oil and gas networks.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the pipeline networks in the United States are "by far" the safest way to transport oil and natural gas across the country.

"However, as the recent oil pipeline failures near Marshall, Mich., and Romeoville, Ill., have shown, as well as the tragic gas pipeline explosion in northern California, the department needs stronger authority to ensure the continued safety and reliability of our nation's pipeline network," he said in a statement.

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