Press Releases

Senators Feinstein and Boxer Announce Plans to Introduce Legislation to Strengthen Pipeline Safety and Enforcement

-Legislation designed to ensure public safety in wake of deadly San Bruno blast-

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (both D-Calif.) today announced their intention to introduce legislation to strengthen oversight of the nation’s pipelines and substantially increase the penalties for violations of federal pipeline safety regulations.

“The United States relies on gas that is transported across state lines and vast distances,” Senator Feinstein said. “It is essential that the American people are assured that the pipelines that deliver this energy to their homes are safe. That’s exactly what this legislation is intended to do.”

Senator Boxer said, “The tragic explosion in San Bruno shows why we must increase inspections of our nation’s pipelines. This legislation will put more inspectors on the job protecting our communities while increasing penalties for safety violations.”

Their legislation -- the Strengthening Pipeline Safety and Enforcement Act of 2010 -- will be drawn from a bill proposed Tuesday by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

“We are going over the legislation proposed today by Secretary LaHood very carefully, will retain the best parts, and introduce it as quickly as possible,” Senator Feinstein said.

Key points of the legislation will include:

  • Increasing the maximum fine for the most serious violations – involving deaths, injuries or major environmental harm – to $2.5 million, up from $1 million.
  • Authorizing 40 additional inspection and enforcement personnel, to be added over four years.
  • Expanding the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation to include oversight of currently unregulated pipelines.
  • Expanding oversight to include pipelines that transport all forms of biofuels.
  • Expanding oversight to include pipelines that transport carbon dioxide as a gas.

The legislation follows last Thursday’s natural gas explosion in San Bruno, California, which killed at least five people, injured dozens, and badly damaged or destroyed 49 properties.

On Monday, Senators Feinstein and Boxer urged the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to immediately order inspections of federal regulated interstate natural gas pipelines throughout California.

On Tuesday, the senators urged U.S. Small Business Administrator Karen Mills to declare San Mateo County a disaster area, a designation that would make residents and businesses eligible for low-interest SBA loans.