Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) today released the following statement in response to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s announcement of a Pipeline Safety Action Plan.

“I commend Secretary LaHood for making pipeline safety a priority. These are common sense, long overdue improvements that can ultimately save lives. San Bruno was a deadly wakeup call to our nation's aging pipeline infrastructure. But current pipeline safety laws largely rely on voluntary self regulation by operators. Deadly accidents like the ones in San Bruno and Allentown show this is simply not good enough. We must give regulators the power to establish strong safety requirements to protect our communities and take strong enforcement action to ensure those standards are met.

“Requiring operators to identify the age and condition of its pipelines is critically important. While PG&E has now taken some steps to improve safety and help prevent another tragedy like San Bruno, it has still yet to test or replace much of the pipe in the ground. Today is another reminder that PG&E must account for the quality of its infrastructure immediately. Furthermore, increased civil penalties will help make certain that operators don’t opt to just pay fines instead of improve safety because it is more cost effective.

“For too long some pipeline operators have put profits ahead of safety. This is unacceptable. The Secretary’s proposals can help end that culture and complement provisions in my bill—the Pipeline Safety and Community Empowerment Act.  I look forward to working with the Secretary to ensure all pipeline operators put safety first and Congress takes action on this important issue.”