(WASHINGTON,D.C) - In remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate today, Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) commented on yesterday's passage of the Murray-McCain pipeline safety bill.
The text of her remarks follow.
"Madam President, I just wanted to rise for a couple minutes today to note a very significant event that occurred last night on the floor of the Senate, and that was the passage of the Pipeline Safety Conference Report.
Madam President, as the Presiding Officer knows, in our state of Washington, a tragic accident occurred three and a half years ago in our state when a pipeline blew up on a sunny June afternoon, tragically killing three young children in our state and devastating a mile-wide section of a river that travels through Bellingham, Washington. This was a traumatic event that has impacted the lives not only of those families and their friends, but hundreds of people in Bellingham and across the country.
At the time, I thought this was just a unique tragic accident that occurred in my state when a pipeline suddenly blew up on a sunny Friday afternoon after school. But after coming back here to Washington, D.C. and researching what was known about pipelines, I found out that in the short time period between 1986 and 1999, there had been 5,700 pipeline accidents.
What happened in my home state was not unique. 325 people had died as well in that time period. There had been 1,500 injuries that had occurred, and $850 million in environmental damage. Working with many colleagues here from the floor – Senator McCain, who chaired the Commerce Committee, Senator Hollings, who worked diligently with me, Senators Inouye, Breaux, Wyden, Brownback, Bingaman, Domenici, Corzine, Torricelli, Senator Gorton, my colleague who's presiding today, Senator Cantwell – we made this an issue in this country.
It has been a long and difficult road. We have passed this bill out of the Senate on several occasions. We have been stopped in the House, and today we are finally at a point where the House, I believe, is going to pass this legislation as well to be sent to the President of the United States.
It will put in place significant new improvements on training and qualifications of our pipeline personnel, on inspection and prevention practices, on tough penalties for people who violate this, and states' abilities to expand their safety activities.
Madam President, for the thousands of families who live next to pipelines, who work next to pipelines, who send their kids to schools who sit next to pipelines, this is definitely an improvement in our law. Is it everything we asked for? No. But today I just want to rise and say thank you to all of my colleagues and Congressman Larsen, as well, for finally moving us to a point where the families of Wade King, Steven Tsiorvas, and Liam Wood, can realize that the hard work they've put in is finally going to result in a change of law that means some future child, some future family, some future community will not have to face what they have.
I thank my colleagues for their work on this. I look forward to having the President sign this into law. And I thank my colleagues again for allowing me the time just to say quickly to the Senate, thank you very much. Madam President, I yield the floor."