WASHINGTON - An amendment to the FY18 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill requiring the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to implement automatic shutoff valves and leak detection standards unanimously passed in the House of Representatives.
The amendment was introduced by U.S. Congressman Salud Carbajal (D-California) and sets aside $1 million of PHMSA's own budget to finalize, update and implement oil pipeline safety standards set forth in the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011.
Rep. Carbajal argued that PHMSA has not yet put forth new safety standards in the six years since the law was passed. He said that straightening pipeline and safety standards can reduce some of the damage caused by oil spills although it won't prevent oil spills altogether.
“This amendment takes important steps to improve the safety of our pipeline infrastructure along the Central Coast and across the country,” said Rep. Carbajal. “Updated pipeline leak standards and automatic shut-off valves are essential to mitigate damage caused by oil spills on our communities. The Central Coast saw this first-hand when it took over two hours to detect the source of the Plains’ Line 901 spill, where thousands of gallons of oil onto Refugio Beach and into the ocean. Pipeline failures such as this directly threaten the public’s health and safety, the local economy, and our environment.”
The Refugio oil spill in 2015 deposited approximately 142,800 gallons of crude oil onto one of the most biologically diverse coastlines in California. The cause of the spill was confirmed to be a ruptured pipeline.