News Releases

(Washington D.C.)- U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) today applauded passage of a measure that will significantly improve pipeline safety standards. The legislation, titled the "Pipeline Inspection, Protection, Enforcement and Safety Act of 2006" will require the Department of Transportation to begin regulating more pipelines that carry hazardous substances. Senator Murray has significant experience working on pipeline safety having worked to pass landmark pipeline safety legislation in 2002. Today's legislation passed by unanimous consent and will go to the President for approval.



"This bill will extend important existing regulations and is another step forward in the effort to safeguard our nation's pipelines," said Senator Murray. "This measure builds on important legislation I worked to enact that improved pipeline inspection, raised penalties for safety violators, and enabled states to expand their safety efforts."



The bill passed today will extend pipeline safety regulations to "low-stress" pipelines so that they are treated like "high-stress" pipelines. "Low stress" pipelines carry the same hazardous materials as "high stress" pipelines, only at lower volumes.



The need for this legislation was highlighted in August after two corroded "low-stress" pipelines in Alaska caused a partial shutdown of a major BP oilfield. That episode raised concerns about the further incidents and crystallized the necessity to treat "low-stress" pipelines the same as every other hazardous liquid pipeline.



Senator Murray's 2002 pipeline legislation was prompted by a tragic incident in Bellingham, Washington. On June 10, 1999 a gasoline pipeline exploded in Bellingham killing two boys and an 18 year-old man and causing severe environmental damage. Following that tragic day, Senator Murray led a nationwide, bipartisan effort to improve the safety of the pipelines. Her efforts paid off in November 2002 when Congress passed pipeline safety legislation that implemented important safety and inspection procedures.



"The latest incident in August, like the tragic incident in Bellingham seven years ago, reminds us that we have to be proactive about securing our pipelines," said Murray "We must continue to be vigilant about providing enforcement, oversight, coordination and funding for pipeline safety."