Clinton Calls For More Pipeline Safety

President Clinton wants to boost safety requirements for pipeline operators, stiffen penalties for violators and give the public more information about pipeline safety and accidents.

The proposed legislation, the Pipeline Safety and Community Protection Act of 2000, would also give states a larger role in regulating pipeline construction and investigating pipeline accidents.

Vice President Gore unveiled the initiative yesterday.

"Pipelines criss-cross our country, carrying the fuel that powers our homes, our cars, and our factories. These pipelines are vital to our economy, but without adequate safeguards, they can pose a serious threat to our families and to our environment," said Gore.

The proposed legislation would require pipeline operators to establish comprehensive inspection and repair programs to prevent, and reduce the impact of, pipeline failures.

"The improvements in this bill assure that pipeline operators are more accountable to the public for the risks they impose," Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater said in a letter accompanying a draft of the proposal that was previewed by administration officials on Monday.

The proposal would create new requirements for pipeline operators in densely populated regions and in environmentally sensitive areas.

Operators would need to share maps, manuals and emergency response plans with local communities to better prepare for emergencies. Information about pipeline accidents and safety-related issues would be made available to the public.

The bill also increases by as much as four times the penalties for violations to help ensure that pipeline companies perform necessary testing and repairs to pipeline damage.

For example, companies that overpressurize a pipeline, causing the line to fail, could face a fine of $500,000, rather than the $25,000 fine under current law.

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