(WASHINGTON, D.C) – At a Capitol Hill news conference, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) warned that without comprehensive pipeline safety measures, the President's energy plan will have a difficult time passing through the Congress. Murray noted that nearly 100 days have passed since the Senate unanimously passed the McCain-Murray bill, the strongest pipeline safety measure to ever pass either branch of Congress. Yet the House has not acted, nor has the Administration mentioned stronger safety measures as part of its national energy plan to be released Thursday.

"Tomorrow the Administration will announce its energy plan," said Murray. "We do know it will call for more plants, more refineries, and 38,000 miles of new pipelines. We do not know how the Administration intends to protect the health and safety of our citizens as they seek to implement this plan. Specifically, we have heard nothing about pipeline safety."

"Before you build thousands of miles of pipelines through our backyards, our neighborhoods and our communities, you must make sure those pipelines are safe."

Murray referenced a June 1999 pipeline explosion in Bellingham, Washington that killed three boys. That tragedy was followed last year by another explosion that killed 12 in Carlsbad, New Mexico.

"Building new capacity without requiring new safety standards will jeopardize the success of the energy plan in Congress," said Murray. "Along with the crisis of energy in America, comes a crisis of confidence in our pipelines. Without tougher standards, public support will be further eroded and responsible legislators will have a hard time supporting this plan."

Currently, there are more than 165,000 miles of hazardous liquid pipelines, and nearly 2 million miles of natural gas lines already running throughout the United States.

Between January 1, 1986 and December 31, 1999, there have been: 325 deaths; 1,500 injuries; and almost $1 billion in environmental damage. On average there is one pipeline accident every day in this country, and 6 million hazardous gallons are spilled into our environment every year.

"Many of our pipelines were built 40 or 50 years ago and are now beginning to corrode. These pipelines can be ticking time-bombs, just waiting to explode," Murray said.