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Call To Upgrade Infrastructure

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on April 4 called on states, regulators and utilities to replace or repair aging oil and gas pipelines to avoid catastrophic spills and explosions. LaHood wants the DOT and its regulatory body, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, to increase the maximum civil penalties for pipeline violations to $250,000 per day from $100,000 and, for a series of violations, a onetime $2.5 million fine instead of $1 million. LaHood also is asking Congress to prepare legislation to help close regulatory loopholes, strengthen risk-management requirements, add more inspectors and improve data reporting to help identify potential pipeline safety risks. The PHMSA says the U.S. has 2.5 million miles of pipeline, much of which was installed decades ago and constructed with obsolete materials. Annual fatalities have risen from nine in 2008 to 13 in 2009 to 22 last year.

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