Tougher rules for gas pipelines considered by feds

Federal regulators are considering broad new restrictions on natural gas transmission lines after fatal accidents last year revealed the government’s lax oversight of the industry.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said today it was opening a 60-day public comment period on whether safety rules should be tightened for the nation’s 300,000-mile network of gas transmission pipelines.

Among the potential changes on the table are stepped-up inspections, lifting safety exemptions for pipelines built before 1970 and requiring emergency shut-off valves in case of accidents. Similar proposals have been offered by federal lawmakers in legislation now working its way through Congress.

Ten people were killed and 61 were injured last year in gas transmission pipeline accidents across the nation. That was the most deaths since 2000.