Feds halt private funds to study pipeline safety

June 20, 2011 - 5:59 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says the federal government will bar industry groups from funding safety studies of onshore pipelines, following an investigation by Hearst Newspapers that revealed the practice.

The investigation published Sunday found that that two-thirds of the 174 safety studies of onshore pipelines initiated by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration over the past decade received significant funding from pipeline operators or industry-controlled organizations.

LaHood's announcement overturns a Bush-era rule that required at least half the funding for federal pipeline safety research to come from outside sources, in most cases.

Industry groups say the move will limit pipeline regulators' ability to do critical research on the nation's 2.3 million miles of pipeline carrying natural gas and hazardous liquids.