W.Va. House panel Oks hiking pipeline safety fine

House Judiciary endorses West Virginia bill increasing pipeline safety fines

Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's quest for steeper pipeline safety fines would have a limited impact in West Virginia.

The House Judiciary Committee learned Friday that just 10 percent of the pipelines that gather natural gas from well sites would fall under the governor's proposal.

Tomblin's bill would hike fines per violation from $1,000 to $200,000. The maximum civil penalty from a specific incident would increase from $200,000 to $2 million.

The Public Service Commission inspects these lines. The Department of Environmental Protection oversees the remaining gathering lines. A federal agency, meanwhile, regulates interstate transmission lines.

The fiery rupture of a transmission line in Sissonville late last year prompted Tomblin's measure.

House Judiciary endorsed and advanced the bill to the full House. A vote on passage could come next week.

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