Keeping America's Pipelines Safe and Secure: Key Issues for Congress [January 9, 2013] [open pdf - 491KB]
"Nearly half a million miles of high-volume pipeline transport natural gas, oil, and other hazardous liquids across the United States. These transmission pipelines are integral to U.S. energy supply and have vital links to other critical infrastructure, such as power plants, airports, and military bases. While an efficient and fundamentally safe means of transport, many pipelines carry volatile, flammable, or toxic materials with the potential to cause public injury and environmental damage. The nation's pipeline networks are also widespread, running alternately through remote and densely populated regions, some above ground and some below. These systems are vulnerable to accidents and terrorist attack. Recent pipeline accidents in Marshall, MI, San Bruno, CA, Allentown, PA, and Laurel, MT, have demonstrated this vulnerability and have heightened congressional concern about pipeline risks. […] The federal pipeline safety program is authorized through the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015, under the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 (P.L. [Public Law] 112- 90), which was signed by President Obama on January 3, 2012. This report reviews the history of federal programs for pipeline safety and security, key policy issues, and recent developments leading up to P.L. 112-90. Although the act contains over 30 substantive sections, this report focuses only on a subset of provisions of key interest in recent congressional debate."
CRS Report for Congress, R41536