The City of San Francisco has sued the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT ) alleging that the agency’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMS A) was negligent in supervising state regulatory agencies and public utilities, which left gas pipeline operators in California unregulated, and purportedly contributed to a natural gas pipeline rupture and explosion. San Francisco v. DOT, No. N/A (N.D. Cal. filed 2/14/12). The complaint alleges that PHMS A has violated the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act by failing to oversee the California Public Utilities Commission’s pipeline safety program and seeks a court order requiring the agency to fulfill its duties under the Act. It also asks the court to order DOT “only to disburse federal funds to a state authority that are reasonably required to carry out a pipeline safety program.” On September 9, 2010, a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. pipeline ruptured and exploded in San Bruno, killing several people and leveling 38 homes.
In a November 2011 letter of intent to sue, plaintiffs alleged that EPA was required by the CAA, American Farm Bureau Federation v. EPA, 559 F.3d 512 (D.C. Cir. 2009), and its own schedule, to promulgate the final standard by October 2011. When EPA failed to respond to the letter of intent, the states filed their complaint. Joining New York in the action are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
Separately, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has reportedly issued an order refusing to set a schedule for EPA to revise its PM2.5 air quality standards. Am. Farm Bureau v. EPA, No. 06-1410 (D.C. Cir. 2/16/12). In 2009, the same court (decision cited above) ordered EPA to reconsider the primary PM2.5 standard. That reconsideration has not occurred. The American Farm Bureau petitioners wanted the court to issue a writ of mandamus compelling EPA to reconsider the standards. Apparently, the court believed EPA’s claim that it was expending the resources to complete the standard by June 2013. See BNA Daily Environment Report, February 21, 2012.