"Rand Paul's Switch Clears Way for Pipeline Bill"

"The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a pipeline safety bill late Monday after a senator with strong Tea Party ties did an about-face - lifting a hold that had blocked the legislation for weeks and adding a provision that would close a regulatory loophole that drew widespread attention after the San Bruno disaster."

"The bill boosts the federal government's regulatory enforcement powers, calls for automatic shutoff valves for new pipelines and, thanks to last-minute language, ends an exemption from rigorous safety inspections for older natural-gas pipelines.

Sen. Rand Paul, a first-term Republican from Kentucky and an ardent foe of government regulation, had used Senate rules to single-handedly block a vote on the bill on the grounds that it would expand the federal government's powers. His action drew criticism from pipeline safety advocates and even the oil and gas industry, which supported the Pipeline Transportation Safety Improvement Act of 2011."

Jaxon Van Derbeken reports for the San Francisco Chronicle October 17, 2011.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, 10/19/2011