WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) reintroduced legislation to hold the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) accountable for lapses in pipeline safety oversight. The PHMSA Accountability Act would restore the rights of private citizens to seek an injunction against PHMSA to force it to perform pipeline safety duties.
“In 2010, eight of my constituents paid the ultimate price for PHMSA’s failed to carry out its oversight duties when a San Bruno pipeline exploded,” Rep. Speier said. “It’s inexcusable that nine years after that tragedy, and after similar explosions devastated communities across the country, Congress has yet to empower private citizens to hold PHMSA accountable. We cannot let PHMSA continue to endanger American families with its inability or unwillingness to regulate the oil and gas industries or oversee state agencies. My bill will restore power to the people and ensure PHMSA can no longer disregard public safety with impunity.”
In 2012, the City and County of San Francisco sued PHMSA for failing to enforce pipeline safety standards in the years leading up to the 2010 San Bruno explosion. In 2015, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Pipeline Safety Act prohibits mandamus-style citizen lawsuits against PHMSA. While the original discussion draft of the 2016 PHMSA reauthorization noted that private suits are allowed, the provision was eliminated after oil and gas industry opposition. Rep. Speier’s bill will ensure that current law allows for mandamus-style suits.
Click here for a copy of the bill text.