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Obama calls for better pipeline oversight

Hate to say I told you so. Wait, no I don’t.

Today brought a national Associated Press story about a plan from the Obama administration to tighten federal oversight of oil and gas pipelines. It would bump up the maximum fine for the most serious pipeline safety violations from $1 million to $2.5 million and pay for an additional 40 inspectors and safety regulators.

Rick Kessler of the Pipeline Safety Trust in Bellingham, Wash., said it’s a start - but only a start.

“If this is all the administration has to say, it is wholly inadequate,” he said.

The National Transportation Safety Board had some sage advice for federal pipeline regulators, who they say are too cozy with industry: “Trust but verify.”

I thought it was interesting how the AP reporter folded in other federal agencies that have been called out recently for their coziness to the industries they regulate: Federal Aviation Administration (called out for inspectors who allowed airlines to skate on safety rules) and the Minerals Management Service (where sex and drugs with industry executives were discovered after BP’s Gulf oil disaster).

Are those the only cases of coziness? You must have some thoughts on this.

Natural gas

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