San Mateo, CA - Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo counties) joined by San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane will announce the introduction of her Prosecuting Irresponsible Pipeline Explosions (PIPE) Act, H.R. 4971, on Friday, April 22, 2016 at 10 am at San Bruno City Hall. The PIPE Act would hold gas pipeline operators accountable for destructive and deadly pipeline accidents by making reckless conduct subject to criminal prosecution. In the past, gas pipeline operators had to be found to have acted “knowingly and willfully” which makes criminal wrongdoing almost impossible to prove. The standard for hazardous materials already includes “reckless” conduct as subject to criminal prosecution.

“When a pipeline operator like PG&E has documented disregard of critical safety failures, there should be consequences,” said Congresswoman Speier. “With current liability standards, we cannot hold pipeline operators personally accountable for death, destruction, and injury. There must be repercussions for reckless actions that endanger the lives of anyone living above a pipeline, including eight of my constituents killed in San Bruno.”

”Monetary fines and penalties are only a part of the necessary punishment for the types of violations and tragedy as happened in our community,” said Mayor Ruane. “All too often this fiscal punishment becomes just the cost of doing business. Corporate decision makers must be held criminally accountable for their decisions that have such a profound effect on the lives of the customers they serve.”

Exploded San Bruno pipeline

According to the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General, there have been very few pipeline safety prosecutions because of this high bar for establishing a criminal violation. This bill would add “recklessly” to the standards for criminal wrongdoing, qualifying carelessness, poor maintenance, and other issues as components of a criminal charge. Last month, the Inspector General recommended this change in order to enforce pipeline safety regulations and to better protect communities.