Senate Passes Murray's Pipeline Safety Bill

Mar 08 2002

McCain-Murray legislation would improve inspection & prevention practices, expand public's right to know, raise penalties for safety violators, protect whistleblowers

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The Senate passed the McCain-Murray Pipeline Safety amendment Friday, which improves pipeline inspections, expands the public's right to know, raises penalties for safety violators and improves training for pipeline safety personnel.

The 94-0 vote added pipeline safety legislation to the Energy Bill currently being considered by the Senate.

While the House of Representatives' version of the Energy Bill does not include a provision for pipeline safety, Murray was confident the provision would remain after a House-Senate conference committee is convened to reconcile differences in the two bills.

"The Senate has again taken a critical step to improve pipeline safety," said Murray. "Today's effort will protect families and communities by improving pipeline inspections and practices, while expanding the public's right to know. It holds pipeline companies accountable by raising penalties for safety violations."

Murray introduced the first pipeline safety bill in congress, and succeeded in passing legislation in the Senate in September 2000 and again in February of 2001. Unfortunately, a determined minority of House members has stymied efforts in that body.

"I want to commend Rick Larsen and others in the House who have worked so hard on pipeline legislation, and I hope that the few House leaders who have continued to block pipeline safety will finally see the light."

Regarded as the Senate's champion on the issue, Murray has used other legislative avenues to improve the safety of America's pipelines. As chair of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, Murray wrote record funding for the Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) into last year's bill. The $58 million Murray fought for last year was $11 million more than the agency received in 2001, and provided funding for 26 new staff positions at OPS.

The strongest pipeline safety bill ever passed by either body of Congress; the amendment passed today does the following:

  • Improves the Qualification & Training of Pipeline Personnel;
  • Improves Pipeline Inspections & Prevention Practices;
  • Expands the Public's Right to Know;
  • Raises the Penalties for Safety Violators;
  • Increases States' Ability to Expand their Safety Activities;
  • Invests in New Technology to Improve Pipeline Safety;
  • Provides Whistleblower Protection;
  • Increases Funding to Improve Pipeline Safety; and
  • Recognizes State Citizen Advisory Committees.