U.S. pipeline oversight to be toughened under proposed rules

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 17, 2012 1:34 PM
U.S. pipeline oversight to be toughened under proposed rules

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Oversight of the U.S. pipeline system will be toughened, including a doubling of fines for mishaps, under proposed rules announced by the Department of Transportation on Friday.

The proposed rules, which follow a number of high-profile oil leaks in the United States, are meant to implement the bipartisan pipeline safety act that Congress passed last year.

"There are 2.6 million miles of pipeline crisscrossing this nation that impact each and every one of us," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. "Our job at the Department of Transportation is to make sure they operate safely."

The act authorizes the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to double the maximum civil penalty to $200,000 per violation per day. It also raises the fine for a series of related violations to $2 million from $1 million.

The fine structure under the rule, which will be subject to a 30-day comment period, would be effective from January 3, 2012, the day President Barack Obama signed the act into law.

Canada's Enbridge Inc has come under withering criticism from federal regulators over its pipeline leaks, including its most recent spill that shut a line that feeds Chicago refiners for 11 days earlier this month.

(Reporting By Russ Blinch; Editing by Dale Hudson)