FERC mulls plan in case of attack on US pipelines
WASHINGTON - The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said this week it was seeking ways to help U.S. industry quickly rebuild interstate oil and natural gas pipelines if any were damaged by terrorist attacks.
Since the deadly Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, some U.S. lawmakers have urged additional steps to protect key U.S. pipelines, oil refineries and nuclear power plants. The risk to pipelines became clear on Oct. 4 when the huge Trans-Alaska pipeline was closed for three days after being pierced by a bullet, in what was described as an act of drunken mischief. The 800-mile pipeline carries 1 million barrels of oil each day.
FERC, which regulates interstate pipelines, said it would hold an April 22 public meeting with the Transportation Department to discuss how the federal government could help a damaged pipeline return to service as quickly as possible. Typically, construction of a new pipeline requires years to obtain federal and local approvals for such things as environmental impact and design safety.
The purpose of the meeting will be "to begin discussions with interested parties on whether and how to clarify, expedite and streamline permitting and approvals for interstate pipeline reconstruction in the event of disaster, whether natural or otherwise," the agency said.
On the following day, FERC will hold a similar public meeting to analyze how natural gas supplies could be quickly reallocated among shippers, pipelines and local distribution companies in the event of an emergency.
FERC asked the oil and gas industry to present information at the meetings about the following issues:
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