WSW: Group Finds Pipeline Laws Lacking

Jul 22, 2015

Sunken oil from the July 2010 pipeline spill near Marshall is removed from Morrow Lake eleven months later
Credit US Environmental Protection Agency /

Five years after an Enbridge Energy oil pipeline ruptured near Marshall and caused the largest inland oil spill in the US to date, the head of a group that pushes for tighter rules on pipelines says the law does not yet reflect lessons learned from that spill.

“There really hasn’t been much change yet,” says Carl Weimer, the executive director of the nonprofit group the Pipeline Safety Trust, based in Washington State.

“There’s been some movement,” he adds. “We know that the federal regulator, the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, sometimes referred to as FMSA has drafted new regulations for this type of pipe that probably includes things like these integrity management plans, includes things like better leak detection, better automated valves, all things that kind of were recommendations after these incidents.

“But those draft regulations, some of which started five years ago, still have not been finalized.”

Weimer says he is hopeful that Congress will address pipeline safety standards soon. That’s because the National Pipeline Safety Program is up for reauthorization.

“It’s the perfect opportunity to have the discussion with Congress  about closing some of these loopholes and tightening the regulations to make sure pipelines are as safe as possible,” he says.

Weimer speaks with WMUK’s WestSouthwest about the expanding use of oil and gas pipelines in North America, the environmental and safety hazards he says under-regulated pipelines pose, and the State of Michigan’s concerns about another set of Enbridge pipelines that run under the Straits of Mackinac.