Nick Schroeck, executive director of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center said, "Pipeline safety is a problem that has remained under the radar for far too long. Increasing public disclosure and strengthening environmental protection is long overdue." The new report -- written by NWF's Gosman and University of Michigan Law School students -- analyzes pipeline safety laws from beginning to end: from siting and routing of pipelines; to how pipelines are maintained and repaired once they are in the ground; and finally to how operators must plan for and report spills if they happen.
Nick Schroeck, executive director of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center said the report, After the Marshall Spill: Oil Pipelines in the Great Lakes Region, A Legal Analysis, exposes gaps in laws that leave communities vulnerable to future oil pollution. The report finds: There is no federal review of the long-term risks associated with routing of new oil pipelines or consideration of impacts to entire watersheds such as the Great Lakes basin; The Federal Integrity Management program, which requires operators to assess the condition of existing lines, install leak detection systems, and repair defects on a set timeline, only protects some environmentally sensitive areas; and, Spill response planning may not be adequate because oversight is divided between federal agencies. Further, the report finds that Great Lakes states have done little, if anything, to improve pipeline safety. Many states have ignored the issue, while other states have imposed minimal requirements. Moreover, public involvement in federal pipeline regulation is limited, as is public access to information.
The report recommends several policy changes at the state and federal level to prevent future oil spills in the Great Lakes region, including: Pipeline laws should consider the effects of oil pipelines on the Great Lakes basin as a whole and should protect all areas that are environmentally sensitive to oil pollution; Pipeline information should be publicly available, consistent with national security interests; and, States should regulate intrastate pipelines and participate in the oversight and inspection of interstate pipelines.
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