This should not come as a surprise to many who have become more and more aware of how de-regulation has impacted this country and its economy. We saw it with Wall Street and BP, now we see it in this story. “The emergency plans for companies operating natural gas pipelines like the one that exploded in San Bruno, Calif., killing eight people and destroying a neighborhood, are effectively off-limits to the public and industry watchdogs because the federal pipeline safety agency doesn’t keep copies in its offices.” “Congress requires PHMSA to inspect the emergency response plans,” Valentine said. “There is no regulation requiring operators to submit these plans to PHMSA and for the agency to retain them.” “The federal pipeline safety administration has long been criticized for a cozy relationship with the companies it is supposed to regulate.” “Its on-site-only review of natural gas pipeline emergency plans puts it at odds with other federal agencies such as the Interior Department, which publicly disclosed copies of BP’s plan for the Gulf of Mexico and the Deepwater Horizon rig after the Gulf oil spill in April.” “The city of San Bruno and I think many other cities are more acutely interested now in what are the locations and configurations of the lines and how are they operated and how can they be quickly shut off,” San Bruno City Manager Connie Jackson said. (Theimer, Sharon, 10/06/2010, Associated Press, Natural gas pipeline crisis plans kept from public, Retrieved from email@example.com).
The solution is “a new U.S. Senate pipeline safety bill would require PHMSA to collect emergency response plans from natural gas and other hazardous liquid pipeline operators and, after removing sensitive details such as proprietary or security information, post them online.” “The bill is sponsored by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.” “A pipeline safety advocate said federal regulators should get copies of the natural gas pipeline disaster plans so they can review them in detail, and the public should get to see them.” (Theimer, Sharon, 10/06/2010, Associated Press, Natural gas pipeline crisis plans kept from public, Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org). The only problem with this is it had to cost eight lives before it is dealt with. One has to wonder though if it will become law or just another victim of the filibuster on Capitol Hill. We all know that nothing can protect and serve the American public like a filibuster can.