Several states have passed new laws to improve oil and gas pipeline safety, as well as the security of rail transportation of crude oil, following a series of spills. According to Valley News, New Hampshire and Minnesota opted to improve their accident prevention and emergency response training, rather than continue to rely on federal regulations. These laws are focused on improving the security of the public, as well as health and safety training for workers, not preventing work for the oil industry within their borders.
"At this point, lots of states are looking at oil-by-rail and thinking about how they would respond – whether they have the resources, whether their first responders have the resources, and whether their laws are sufficient to protect their communities," Rebecca Craven, program director at the Pipeline Safety Trust, a safety advocacy group based in Washington State, told the news source. "States are becoming more aware of new pipelines being proposed in their states, or expansion of existing pipelines, or changes in [a pipeline's] products. As a result of public concerns being raised, they're starting to respond by undertaking state-level spill response plans. I think it could be a trend."
OSHA safety guidelines only go so far for oil field, pipeline and transportation, and companies need to consider the welfare of their employees and the public. Improving site specific planning and accident prevention is way to achieve higher safety standards overall, as is bringing consultants to improve emergency response and help take proactive steps to keep spills from happening in the first place. Even with federal regulations expanding, more can be done by the oil producers themselves to prevent tragedies and optimize the safety of their operations. Firms in Texas will need to consider these improvements as pipeline construction continues.