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Pete A.
Democrat CA 31

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  • Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act

    by Representative Pete Aguilar

    Posted on 2015-01-21

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    AGUILAR. Mr. Speaker, natural gas pipeline explosions do happen.



    Last week, a pipeline exploded in Mississippi. Last year, pipelines exploded in Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Kentucky. In 2013, a pipeline south of Dallas exploded. Reports described the massive explosion as ``shooting flames high in the air and prompting evacuations from nearby homes and a school district,'' with black smoke visible for some 20 miles. In 2010, a natural gas pipeline exploded in San Bruno, California, in my home State, causing an explosion that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes. Even as technology has improved, pipelines have failed.

    We should make clear with this legislation that, in the event of the catastrophic failure of a pipeline, taxpayers are not liable for the hundreds of millions or billions of dollars in damages that these explosions can cause. Companies are responsible for the safety and reliability of their pipelines, and we should ensure that they are also liable for the damages caused by those pipelines.

    {time} 1500 Last year, when this very bill came before the Committee on Energy and Commerce, the president of the Pipeline Safety Trust testified. This group is a national, independent, nonprofit watchdog organization created using funds from a settlement reached in the aftermath of a pipeline explosion in Washington State that killed three people. The Trust's president testified that ``rushed, or worse, incomplete reviews resulting in automatic approvals pose a threat to public safety.'' To be clear, this is not an organization that opposes new pipelines. They only focus on pipeline safety, and they have serious problems with this bill and its effects on public safety for new pipelines. Their president pointed out that this bill treats a ``10-mile pipeline across a barren desert the same as a 1,400-mile pipeline that crosses multiple ecosystems and through dense population areas where it could pose a threat to the life or property of citizens living nearby.'' Mr. Speaker, pipelines can fail. And those failures can have disastrous effects on communities and the environment. This commonsense amendment would protect taxpayers from ever having to pay the costs of a pipeline explosion. I hope we never see another natural gas pipeline explosion, but that would require that history not repeat itself.

    I urge my colleagues to vote for this motion to recommit and to vote against the underlying bill because of the danger it poses to the communities and the environment.

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