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Report: 90% of Pipeline Blasts Draw No Financial Penalties
A striking report has revealed that 90 percent of the 137 interstate pipeline fires or explosions since 2010 have drawn no financial penalties for the companies responsible.
The article from E&E News reporter Mike Soraghan underscores the federal Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's (PHMSA) weak authority over the fossil fuel industry for these disasters.
The government levied a mere $5.4 million in fines for the 13 pipeline explosion and fire cases in the last eight years, the analysis found.
One of the country's largest natural gas pipeline accidents—the 2010 San Bruno, California pipeline explosion that resulted in eight deaths—fell under state jurisdiction rather than PHMSA. California authorities imposed a record $1.6 billion fine against Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E).
Although serious pipeline incidents are relatively rare—at least when you consider how much natural gas is transported every day by the country's 3 million miles of mainline and other pipelines—it's little solace to the people who have suffered from pipeline accidents.
Citing PHMSA data, the Washington Post reported that more than 300 people have died and 1,200 have been injured due to natural gas pipeline incidents in the last 20 years—and the nation's aging gas distribution network further increases these risks.
But new gas pipelines explode, too. TransCanada's Leach XPress project, which was placed in-service on Jan. 1, exploded in Marshall County, West Virginia in June. A 24-inch natural gas line, owned by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners and its subsidiary Sunoco, exploded in Beaver County, Pennsylvania in September a week after it was activated.
These risks have prompted calls from environmentalists and concerned citizens to halt new fracked gas projects such as the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline, which have both lost key permits in recent weeks.
"Those who disregard the public's widespread opposition to fracked gas pipelines seemingly always point to how safe they are and closely watched they'll be. Nothing could be further from the truth," the Sierra Club's Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign director Kelly Martin said in an online statement in response to the E&E News article.
"We know we can't expect corporate polluters to look out for our health, but we should be able to count on our enforcement agencies to protect us. Stories like these show exactly why we should never build another fracked gas pipeline, especially when clean, renewable energy sources are abundant and affordable," Martin concluded.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
It's become a familiar story with the Trump administration: Scientists write a report that shows the administration's policies will cause environmental damage, then the administration buries the report and fires the scientists.
By Jake Johnson
Calling the global climate crisis both the greatest threat facing the U.S. and the greatest opportunity for transformative change, Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled today a comprehensive Green New Deal proposal that would transition the U.S. economy to 100 percent renewable energy and create 20 million well-paying union jobs over a decade.
The Parties to CITES agreed to list giraffes on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) today at the World Wildlife Conference or CoP18 in Geneva. Such protections will ensure that all giraffe parts trade were legally acquired and not sourced from the poached giraffes trade and will require countries to make non-detriment findings before allowing giraffe exports. The listing will also enable the collection of international trade data for giraffes that might justify greater protections at both CITES and other venues in the future.
The WHO stressed that more research is needed on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion. luchschen / iStock / Getty Images Plus
The UN's health agency on Thursday said that microplastics contained in drinking water posed a "low" risk at their current levels.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) — in its first report on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion — also stressed more research was needed to reassure consumers.