The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Peter Hart

Advocates Demand Stronger Pipeline Safety Rules

New letter recommends stronger public safety protections, particularly for carbon pipelines

Dozens of organizations sent a letter to Senate and House leaders today outlining key pipeline safety measures they say must be part of the pending reauthorization of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) – including several provisions dealing with the potential threats posed by carbon dioxide pipelines.

The letter – signed by Food & Water Watch, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, Oil Change International, Indigenous Environmental Network and others – calls on lawmakers to close carbon dioxide regulatory loopholes, ensure that new regulations apply to existing infrastructure, and prohibit the blending of hydrogen in existing gas lines.

The letter cites the 2020 carbon pipeline rupture in Satartia, Mississippi as the “proverbial canary in the coal mine” that should prompt immediate changes – especially since pipeline companies are rushing forward with plans to build hundreds of miles of new pipelines. Without adequate safety regulations, the letter warns that a similar rupture in more densely communities “could easily spiral into a mass casualty event.”

The letter makes several recommendations regarding carbon dioxide pipelines – everything from requiring plume dispersion modeling and the use of odorants to establishing regulations that would set maximum contaminant levels.

“Motivated by billions in government subsidies, pipeline companies are now pushing to build massive new carbon dioxide projects. But without adequate rules in place to protect public health and safety, we are putting countless communities at risk,” said Food & Water Watch Policy Director Jim Walsh. “This industry pipe dream will quickly become a nightmare for communities that live with the threat of leaks or explosions that would send plumes of suffocating CO2 for miles. Lawmakers must ensure that new pipeline safety rules account for the unique threats posed by carbon transport and hydrogen blending.”

“Communities across the country are facing an onslaught of new pipeline proposals. Unlike the old oil and gas pipelines, CO2 and hydrogen pipelines pose unique and extraordinary hazards to public health and the environment but are vastly under-regulated. PHMSA must be authorized and given a strong mandate to guarantee public safety rather than follow its old formula of guaranteeing the profitability of the fossil fuel industry,” said Carolyn Raffensperger, executive director of the Science and Environmental Health Network. “The federal government intends to throw hundreds of billions of dollars at the carbon capture and storage industry to build as much as 96,000 miles of dangerous carbon pipelines that would snake through communities all over the U.S,” said Paul Blackburn, an attorney with the Bold Alliance, a Midwestern landowner protection group. “The least the feds can do is update their outdated safety regulations to protect the people threatened by these potentially deadly pipelines.”

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