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PIPES Act Harms Communities, Could Prohibit Public Access to CO2 Pipeline Spill Modeling

Photo of Paul Blackburn giving a presentation on Keystone Pipeline System.

By Paul Blackburn

News December 8, 2023

Last week, the U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee introduced a federal Pipeline Safety Act reauthorization bill, “PIPES Act,” H.R. 6494. (See below: The CO2 pipeline language is mostly in Section 25.)

Bold Alliance submitted a letter (below) to the U.S. House & Transportation Committee raising concerns about this bill. Our major concern is that it would allow PHMSA to make company dispersion modeling secret. While this proposed federal law would not explicitly prohibit state and local governments from disclosing company dispersion modeling, if this proposed law is enacted and PHMSA determines that dispersion modeling is secret (which it almost certainly would), then the industry will argue that since the feds consider this information secret, then state and local agencies should also consider it secret, and state and local agencies would likely accede to this federal judgment and also prevent the public from knowing the danger zone around carbon dioxide pipelines.

It should also be noted that this bill would not prevent citizens from doing their own dispersion modeling, and making the results public — but that would require citizens to spend their own money on modeling. The letter contains many arguments for why dispersion modeling should be public. In addition to the technical letter sent by Bold Alliance, a coalition of groups including Bold, Food & Water Watch, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Science & Environmental Health Network sent a separate joint letter to the Committee (below), calling attention to the fact that the bill falls far short of what is needed to protect public safety from the dangers of what could be hundreds of thousands of miles of new pipelines to transport carbon dioxide and hydrogen.

ACTION: Call the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to be connected to your local representative’s office, and tell your member of Congress:
I am calling in reference to the “PIPES Act,” H.R. 6494: Americans have a right to know the risks if deadly CO2 pipelines are threatening our lives and communities — the pipeline rupture dispersion modeling should be made public!

2023-12-05 Bold Letter re HR 6494
PIPES Act Harms Communtities

Full text of “PIPES Act”:
2023-011-30 HR 6494 PIPES Act_text

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