In Wake of Santa Barbara Oil Spill, Senator Markey Calls for Pipeline Safety Hearing
Also calls on Obama administration to immediately name nominee to fill vacant administrator position at pipeline safety agency
Washington (May 21, 2015) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), today called on committee leadership to hold a hearing on the state of our national pipeline infrastructure and what is needed to keep it functioning in a way that does not threaten public health, safety or the environment. Senator Markey also called on the Obama administration to immediately nominate a candidate to lead PHMSA, a position that has been vacant for more than six months.
“With oil blackening the sandy beaches of California this holiday weekend, there is no time to waste ensuring that America’s pipeline infrastructure is safe and sound,” said Senator Markey. “Whether today, five years ago in the Gulf of Mexico, or the same Santa Barbara coastline 46 years ago, we are reminded how much work remains to ensure our environment is protected and oil and gas companies are operating in a safe manner. I urge Senate Commerce Committee leadership to immediately hold a hearing to understand the current state of pipeline infrastructure and the effectiveness of the agency charged with overseeing it.”
A link to the letter to Chairman John Thune and Ranking Member Bill Nelson can be found HERE.
PHMSA records show that the failed oil pipeline operator, Plains Pipeline, has had a number of violations and penalties over the last decade. A Los Angeles Times analysis indicates that Plains Pipeline’s incidents per mile of pipeline is three times the national average. While they have been assessed penalties amounting to more than $100,000 during the last ten years, Plains Pipeline reported nearly $900 million in profits in 2014 alone.
Earlier this month, Senator Markey introduced legislation that would provide additional incentives to replace and repair aging natural gas distribution infrastructure. Senator Markey’s legislation would urge states and natural gas companies to speed up their replacement of old natural gas infrastructure, and would provide a new, stable funding stream to put people to work building a modern natural gas system.