Stabenow, Peters Denounce Republican Opposition to Protecting Michigan’s Environment

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters expressed disappointment after their amendment to protect Michigan's environment and enhance oversight over aging pipelines in the Great Lakes, such as those underneath the Straits of Mackinac, was defeated today. The amendment, which was offered during Senate consideration of legislation authorizing construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, was opposed by a majority of Republicans.

"It is totally unacceptable that my Republican colleagues voted against putting pipeline safety standards first," said Senator Stabenow. "We have a 60-year-old pipeline running under the Great Lakes and if that pipeline breaks, it will be a disaster like nothing we've seen in Michigan before. We need to put pipeline safety first to make sure we prevent harmful and costly oil spills like the one that happened in the Kalamazoo River from ever happening again."

"I am disappointed the Senate failed to pass this critical, commonsense amendment that would improve oversight for pipeline safety," said Senator Peters. "Following the catastrophic oil spill that contaminated the Kalamazoo River, Michiganders know that a pipeline leak can have devastating consequences. I am committed to ensuring a disaster like that never happens again in Michigan or across the country, and I will continue working to prevent pipelines from posing a threat to the Great Lakes or Michigan's environment.

The amendment would require the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to certify that they have the resources necessary to conduct proper oversight of pipelines in the Great Lakes before approving construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. It also would require PHMSA to develop recommendations for special conditions to apply to pipelines in the Great Lakes, similar to the 59 special conditions developed for Keystone. This measure will ensure the agency responsible for overseeing petroleum pipelines has the resources required to do the job.