County Pushes for Better Pipeline Safety

And EDC Sues PHMSA over Information Requests

This was a week of rough encounters between Santa Barbara County and the federal agency most responsible for ensuring the safety of interstate oil pipelines, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, better known as PHMSA. The county supervisors took exception to the new set of safety rules the agency released in the wake of the Plains All American pipeline rupture of May 19 by Refugio.

A majority of the board declared the regulations were a step in the right direction but didn’t go nearly far enough. Specifically, they declared PHMSA should adopt new rules requiring pipeline operators to install automatic shutdown valves. The board letter declared such equipment both “feasible and warranted,” noting that all major pipeline companies operating in Santa Barbara County use them with the exception of Plains. Likewise, the board stated the environmental damage inflicted by the Plains spill “could have been minimized” if such equipment had been utilized.

The same week, the Environmental Defense Center (EDC) sued PHMSA, charging the federal agency violated the federal Freedom of Information Act by failing to respond to its request for documents pertaining to the inspection and enforcement records of the ruptured pipeline. EDC made its first information demand a few days after the spill. Since August, the lawsuit alleges, there’s been no communication at all from the federal agency. A spokesperson said it’s PHMSA’s policy not to comment on pending litigation.

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Evacuees Across Santa Barbara County Allowed Back Home This Evening

Mandatory evacuation order lifted for all burn areas.

New Scam Involves ‘Ground Stability Testing’

Fake 'land tech' tried to enter a home on the Westside.

Family Sues Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office for Wrongful Death

Five deputies shot Bryan Carreño 20 times.

County Race for Auditor-Controller Heats Up

An unexpected bloodbath erupts between Jen Christensen and Betsy Schaffer.

Gun Restraining Order Used 20 Times in Santa Barbara County

Only Los Angeles County used the order more frequently.