The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is the federal regulatory agency tasked with regulating pipelines and hazardous materials (big surprise eh?). Except they’re not doing their job, not adequately, anyway.
First of all, it’s kinda hard for them because they’ve got a mere 90 inspectors in all of the US inspecting over 2.8 million miles of pipe. That’s over 31 thousand miles of pipe per inspector. If that’s not a regulatory crisis, one can’t know what is.
Even PHMSA’s deputy associate administrator for field operations, Linda Daugherty, recently admitted publicly that gathering lines keep her up at night, saying “There’s a whole lot of gathering lines out there that no one is inspecting. There are no safety standards applicable to those lines, and no safety agency or regulator is looking at them.”
On top of that, though, PHMSA officials are too busy schmoozing with the big oil barons to take regulating seriously. A report from watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) found that PHMSA officials spend about 3 days at pipeline industry conferences for every day they spend responding to spills, explosions, and the like.
Tar Sands Blockade is aiming to call them out and pressure them to take their job more seriously.
We’ve submitted FOIA requests to demand documented proof that PHMSA adequately inspected and reviewed tests of the Keystone XL Gulf Coast pipeline. And we’ve got more FOIA’s coming. We’re coordinating with PHMSA and landowners along the pipeline route to actually sit down and have a meeting. This has been quite a cumbersome process, but it’s finally moving along… And we’re issuing and helping amplify calls to dig up Keystone XL and not allow it to operate until it is built correctly and safely.
If the FOIA requests aren’t honored, we will escalate.
If the meeting landowners and ourselves have been trying to get for months isn’t honored, we will escalate.
If we feel like going to a store on the 2nd or 3rd floor of a mall and don’t know where the stairs are, we will escalate.
If PHMSA ignores our call to issue a Corrective Action Order to delay the operation of Keystone XL until it is rebuilt correctly, and especially if leaks occur as a result, we will escalate.