"Critics Fault Oil and Gas Pipeline Regulator's Industry Ties"

"The top federal regulator of oil and gas pipelines is facing withering criticism for her ties to industry and her agency's floundering response to recent oil-pipeline spills in the Midwest and last week's deadly gas pipeline explosion in California.

Cynthia Quarterman, chief of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, is having her work and that of her agency compared with the infamous Minerals Management Service, whose lax oversight of offshore drilling was spotlighted by the April explosion of a BP PLC-hired drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico and a record-shattering oil spill that followed. The Gulf disaster forced the Obama administration to dismantle and reorganize MMS, which is now called the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.

Parallels between the pipeline agency and MMS cannot be denied, said Lena Moffitt, who represents the Sierra Club in Washington on oil and gas issues. 'These are agencies,' she said, 'that have a very cozy relationship with the industries they're regulating.'"

Paul Quinlan reports for Greenwire September 17, 2010.

Monday, September 20, 2010