W.Va. House approves steeper pipeline safety fines - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

W.Va. House approves steeper pipeline safety fines

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Fines would soar for violating safety rules for certain West Virginia natural gas pipelines under legislation approved by the House of Delegates.

The measure passed 91-7 to the Senate on Thursday follows the December inferno triggered by a ruptured gas line in Sissonville. No one was killed, but the resulting fire destroyed a section of highway and four homes.

Federal rules oversee that interstate transmission line. Thursday's bill would apply to about 10 percent of the pipelines that gather natural gas from well sites. It would increase fines levied by the Public Service Commission from $1,000 to $200,000 per violation. The maximum penalty would rise from $200,000 to $2 million.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin proposed the measure. It was amended to ensure violators can't hike utility rates to recoup fines.

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