Oil Spill in Michigan Raises Questions About Regulation

The U.S. Department of Transportation issued repeat warnings to Enbridge Energy Partners, owner of a pipe that leaked an estimated 1 million gallons of oil into southwest Michigan's Kalamazoo River, to address the safety of its system.

1 minute read

August 2, 2010, 11:00 AM PDT

By Tim Halbur


The Kalamazoo River oil spill comes as Congress was already holding hearings on a pipeline safety bill.

Standards for protection and maintenance of pipelines vary across the United States; more than half of the 165,000 mile of pipeline fall outside of "high consequence" areas, and require less vigilance. The pipeline that burst near the Kalamazoo River was one of these requiring lower standards. The location of high consequence areas is kept secret by industry and government.

Regulation of oil pipelines is overseen by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, or PHMSA, which some say receives too much oversight and input from industry.

"The regulatory agency has given the industry too much authority in overseeing itself," U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek told the Detroit Free Press. A portion of the Kalamazoo River affected by the oil spill flows through Battle Creek. Schauer sits on the House committee with authority over PHMSA.

Thanks to Nina Misuraca Ignaczak

Sunday, August 1, 2010 in The Detroit Free Press

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