Congresswoman Speier wants law requiring automatic shutoff valves on pipelines

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Congresswoman Jackie Speier and San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane at the explosion site.

It took utility officials nearly two hours to shut off the gas after the pipeline explosion in San Bruno last week. The area’s congresswoman is crafting legislation to address that and other safety concerns.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier says PG&E already uses automatic shutoff valves in some areas. The Bay Area Democrat says she’s writing a bill that would make the technology mandatory in residential neighborhoods and areas with high-rise buildings.

She’s also considering legislation that would require utilities to inform people of pipelines in their neighborhoods. "The argument is that somehow there’s a national security issue," she says. "Well, the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration has something online that you can access now. So why wouldn’t you inform local residents?"

Speier says she hopes to have the automatic shutoff bill ready by the end of the week. A state lawmaker from the area says he’ll introduce a similar measure in Sacramento later this year.

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