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Leaking and exploding pipelines bad for business

Workers fixing Enbridge oil pipeline near Marshall, Michigan
USEPA Region 5
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The 6B oil pipeline near Marshall, Michigan. Workers have repaired the pipeline that spilled close to a million gallons of crude oil. Enbridge Energy Partners, the company that owns the pipeline, is waiting to get the o.k. from the government to ...

The last few weeks have not been good for pipeline companies.  Coming off a summer that included the mother of all oil spills you had...

  1. The Enbridge oil pipeline leak near Marshall, Michigan where more than 800,000 gallons of crude oil spilled.
  2. A break in an Enbridge oil pipeline near Romeoville, IL. The oil spilled and gas prices went up.
  3. A natural gas pipeline in California explodes and kills four people.

The government is taking the hint.  So today the “Strengthening Pipeline Safety and Enforcement Act of 2010” is hitting the halls of Congress.

The Department of Transportation is the federal agency in charge of regulating pipelines. Transportation Secretary Ray Lood says,

The Department needs stronger authority to ensure the continued safety and reliability of our nation’s pipeline network.

In addition to the bill that calls for more government oversight over the pipelines, Congress is holding a hearing on the Enbridge oil spill.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody is following the hearings. Carmody reports that Minnesota congressman James Oberstar, who chairs the House Transportation Committee, chided Enbridge for requiring people evacuated from the spill zone in Michigan to sign waivers in exchange for compensation. Oberstar said,

Enbridge should not have the right, or the power, or the force to intimidate people into signing a document, that the company can then use against them in later legal proceedings.