Between the Lines: April 4

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San Bruno explosion case against PG&E could be hard to prove

  Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has been indicted by a federal grand jury, accused of violating the a federal pipeline safety law between 2003 and 2010. Federal prosecutors say this resulted in a ruptured natural gas line and a massive explosion that killed eight people and leveled 38 homes in San Bruno, Calif., in 2010.

The maximum statutory penalty could be $12 million – based on $500,000 for each of 12 felony counts. The only other time federal prosecutors have accused a company of violating the federal Pipeline Safety Act was after a 1999 petroleum pipeline explosion that killed three in Bellingham, Wash.

Feds allow Exxon to restart Texas leg of Pegasus pipeline

Irving-based Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) was allowed Monday to restart operations on the Texas leg of the company’s Pegasus pipeline that spilled thousands of barrels of crude oil last year into an Arkansas neighborhood. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration approved Exxon’s plan to restart the 210-mile segment of the pipeline from Corsicana to Nederland known as the “Southern Segment” at 80 percent of the operating pressure allowed before the spill took place.

BOMBSHELL IN WAPO/KEYSTONE SCANDAL: DID THE POST COORDINATE WITH CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS?

A major development occurred today in the scandal surrounding the Washington Post’s attempt to advance Democratic Party talking points by falsely linking Koch Industries to the Keystone Pipeline. In the unlikely event that you are not already familiar with the story, you should begin by reading this post and this one, as well as the one from last October where I dismantled the International Forum on Globalization report that was the basis for the Washington Post’s story of March 20.

Former PHMSA administrator: Keystone XL is safe and should be approved

I’ve overseen thousands of hazardous material shipments by pipe, rail, train, truck and barge across the country as the former administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

By design, the PHMSA review process is deliberately thorough. It is transparent. And it is a proven process with a clear beginning and ending point. A PHMSA review is also typically free from the kind of political distractions that have overshadowed the Keystone XL permit consideration

Lawmaker proposes bill to lift U.S. crude exports ban

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, on Tuesday proposed a measure that would remove existing restrictions on U.S. crude exports. “Lifting the outdated ban on crude oil exports will result in more production, create new jobs at home and boost America’s energy security while providing countries like Ukraine with a dependable supply alternative to energy imports from countries like Russia,” McCaul said. His proposal came a day after the American Petroleum Institute released a report highlighting the benefits of allowing crude exports.

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