US House Approves Increase of Pipeline Violation Fees

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones Newswires), Sep. 29, 2010

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that forces pipeline companies to notify government officials within one hour of detecting a leak and raises penalties for multiple violations from $1 million to $2.5 million.

The passage of the bill follows several high-profile pipeline disasters, including an explosion in Northern California that killed at least seven people and destroyed dozens of homes.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Mark Schauer, a Democrat who represents a district in Michigan in which an Enbridge Inc. (ENB, ENB.T) pipeline ruptured in July, spilling up to 1 million gallons of oil into nearby waters.

"We need to make sure there is no delay in future responses to these types of disasters," Schauer said in a statement Wednesday. The House passed the bill on Tuesday night.

In addition to shortening notification times and raising penalties, the bill also requires the U.S. Transportation Department to maintain a public database of all reported incidents involving gas or hazardous liquid pipelines.

On Tuesday, Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D., W. Va.) and Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.) also introduced a bill to tighten pipeline safety standards. And earlier this month, Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer--both California Democrats--introduced a similar measure.

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