Rand Paul, the junior Senator out of Kentucky, is blocking legislation that requires new federal pipeline safety legislation.As a Tea Party politician, Senator Paul opposes the expansion of federal regulations — even when that stands in the way of improving safety standards, says the SF Chronicle.
The Pipeline Transportation Safety Improvement Act of 2011 would install automatic or remote-control shut-off valves on new and replaced pipelines.
Sen. Paul is single-handedly blocking the legislation, which had almost universal bi-partisan support, using a procedural hold.
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved the bill, and it has backing from the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, the American Gas Association and the Association of Oil Pipelines.
The legislation could prove to be crucial. A federal safety panel reporting on the San Bruno explosion in 2010 that took eight lives said that “Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s record keeping is so flawed that it is impossible to say how much of the company’s natural-gas transmission system is at risk of catastrophic failure.”
The regulations would be paid for by industry fees, and there is already a Pipeline Safety Design Review Fund set up for this purpose. But Sen. Paul has no objections to the regulations or how the bill would be paid for: just that it constitutes an expansion of federal authority.
His principled stance is proving pretty unpopular, though unshakable: he was called “deplorable” by Rep. Jackie Speier, and refused to budge even after a pipeline explosion in his home state.
Eventually, the Department of Transportation and the White House may forgo legislation and impose their own safety regulations. The 2.5 million miles of pipelines in the U.S. carry oil, natural gas and hazardous liquids.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.