Dear Mr. President:
The spill of nearly one million gallons of oil from Enbridge Energy Partners’ pipeline into Talmadge Creek in Michigan on July 26 further demonstrates the necessity for you and Secretary LaHood to pay immediate attention to the hapless, industry-indentured Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS), which has been, like the Minerals Management Service, in a long fraternal relationship with its industry.
Following a pipeline explosion in 1965 at Natchitoches, Louisiana, which took 17 lives, engineer Fred Lang and I pressed Congress to pass the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968. Almost immediately, the pipeline industry—both gas and oil—moved to capture it and its advisory committee. The history of OPS has been largely one of self-regulation with standards essentially written by the industry below the needs of safety and the availability of practical technological capabilities.