The Herald-Leader editorial criticized me for delaying the passage of a pipeline regulatory bill in the U.S. Senate. If the editorial board had contacted my office, its members would have learned why I held the bill and about an important lesson this bill can teach us about why government hasn't been working.
The background is that there have been recent accidents involving pipeline ruptures or explosions, some injuring or killing nearby people. As with all tragedies, there is always a call for immediate government action. Often these calls are an overreach where government is trying to solve an insolvable problem just to make voters feel better.
But that wasn't true here. The reality was worse. The government was trying to pretend it fixed a problem that it had not even properly diagnosed. As a physician and a citizen, this bothered me. And Congress was trying to do it with no time for consideration, using a Senate procedure designed for quick passage of non-controversial resolutions.
I held the bill because it was written before the accident report on the 2010 San Bruno, Calif., pipeline explosion had been completed. Is it not bad policy to pass regulations without reading the corresponding accident report? I certainly believe it is.
I went on to read the accident report from 1987 about pipeline explosions in Lancaster and Beaumont, Ky. Interestingly, both the 1987 report and the San Bruno report call for eliminating "grandfather" clauses that prevent rules from applying to older pipelines, precisely where there is the greatest danger of an accident.
I campaigned on a platform of reading the bills, not blindly passing them. As long as I have the privilege to represent Kentucky, I will continue to hold up bills until they are thoroughly read, examined and analyzed. Legislation should be thoroughly examined.
As for this particular problem and the resulting bill, while I am in favor of as little government regulation as possible, when there is need for regulations, these situational regulatory measures should be carefully considered by Congress. The victims of these explosions deserve nothing less. That's not what was happening.
The pipeline regulations bill did not even begin to solve the problems that led to the recent tragedies. After reading the safety report and meeting with industry executives, federal regulators and National Transportation Safety Board officials, I have found a way to address the problems more thoroughly through these regulations, while limiting their scope and unnecessary red tape. My proposal was unanimously passed and accepted by both sides in the Senate, further proving that my actions have enriched this legislation.