The federal agency that oversees the safety of the nation’s pipelines failed to follow through on congressional reforms that could have made a difference in a May break that created the largest coastal oil spill in California in 25 years, a House committee chairman said this week.
In a rare display of agreement on Capitol Hill, Republicans and Democrats on the Energy and Power Subcommittee expressed frustration with inaction by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which has yet to complete more than a dozen requirements outlined in a 2011 federal law.
Among the unfinished work is revising regulations to establish specific time periods for notification of authorities after a confirmed accident. The new rule would require notice as quickly as possible and always within an hour.
The owner of the California line, Plains All American Pipeline, received criticism for taking about 90 minutes to alert federal responders after confirming the spill near Santa Barbara.
“Some of these provisions I am convinced would have made a difference in the recent oil spill in Santa Barbara had they been implemented in a timely manner,” said Rep. Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican who chairs the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.