By Keith Laing
The bill, H.R. 2845, funds the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration through 2015 and incorporates recommendations made by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the wake of an explosion in San Bruno, Calif., that killed eight people.
Among the NTSB’s recommendations were equipping pipelines to automatically shut off when problems arise in “high-consequence areas" and adding systems to identify leaks as soon as they happen.
The final version of the pipeline bill that was signed by President Obama increases civil penalties against pipeline owners that violate safety rules and ties funding for states to their approving tougher measures to ensure people learn where certain lines might be before moving earth for construction. The bill authorizes $107 million for safety inspections, and allows the secretary of the Interior to set a rule requiring automatic shutoff valves.