Texas governor signs pipeline safety bill into law

Spurred by the tragic death of a 12-year-old Dallas girl last year, the Texas Legislature and Gov. Greg Abbott beefed up the state’s pipeline safety regulations during the recently completed 86th session.

On June 2, Abbott signed into law HB 866, a bill sponsored by Rep. Rafael Anchia, a Dallas Democrat.

The legislation mandates the replacement of aging and dangerous iron and steel pipelines. Specifically, the bill prohibits pipeline operators from installing cast iron, wrought iron, or bare steel pipelines underground. It also requires operators to remove all underground cast iron pipelines by Dec. 31, 2021. Finally, the new law also calls for replacement of the riskiest pipes statewide.

Anchia also sponsored HB 864, which provides for immediate reporting of major pipeline safety incidents to state authorities. The legislature also approved this bill on a bipartisan basis, and Public Citizen strongly encourages Abbott to sign it.

Public Citizen testified in favor of both HB 866 and 864 at the Texas Legislature this spring.

Texas isn’t known for stringent regulations on oil and gas operators – in fact, the opposite is true. But the state’s lawmakers did the right thing by passing Anchia’s bills. Our elected officials were no doubt prodded by the memory of 12-year-old Linda “Michellita” Rogers, who died on Feb. 23, 2018 when a natural gas pipeline exploded under her family’s home in Dallas.

Linda “Michellita” Rogers died in 2018 when a pipeline exploded underneath her Dallas home.

“Nothing can alleviate the pain and sadness we feel from losing young Michellita far too early,” Anchia said in a statement when HB 866 passed. “We can, however, work to reduce the risk of tragedies like this from happening again.

“I am proud to have fought hard to pass this bill in Michellita’s memory,” he added. “It will make our communities safer, and save lives.”