Great Lakes News

Great Lakes News

Senators Propose Pipeline Safety Legislation


U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) are again advocating for pipeline safety in the Great Lakes with a new package of bills introduced late last month. In 2015, Senators Peters and Stabenow introduced pipeline legislation that was signed into law as the PIPES Act.

“The Great Lakes ecosystem is unlike any other in the world, and many existing pipeline safety rules and regulations do not adequately protect this precious resource from a disastrous oil spill,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, in a press release. “Senator Stabenow and I are working together to hold Great Lakes pipeline operators to the highest standards and help protect against the catastrophic consequences of a worst-case spill that would endanger our environment and the multi-billion shipping, tourism and fishing industries supported by the Great Lakes.”

The new bills include five different provisions related to pipeline safety. The first would increase liability caps for Great Lakes pipeline operators. This means Great Lakes pipelines would potentially be held to the same liability standards as offshore pipelines (which are more strict); as such, operators would be responsible for covering all oil spill clean-up costs.

The second proposed provision would expand the Secretary of Transportation’s authority in emergency situations to shut down pipelines. The third provision would require both the U.S. Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review oil pipeline operator response plans, a practice that is currently optional. Next, the bill package aims to increase transparency, in part by making operator's’ facility response plans available online. Last but not least, the bills propose creating a U.S. Coast Guard Center for Expertise for the Great Lakes.

For more details on the proposed legislation, visit

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