Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968.

August 13, 1968

I HAVE today signed the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968. Once again, the interest of the American consumer has been served.

This bill creates--for the first time--comprehensive, complete, and enforceable safety procedures regulating the pipeline transportation of flammable, toxic, and corrosive gases.

It is a bill whose impact will be almost immediate. But most important, it is a bill that looks to the future; that will prevent a serious problem from becoming a disastrous problem in the years ahead.

The use of gas in households and industry has increased sharply in recent years. --Today, natural gas accounts for about one-third of the Nation's total energy consumption.

--Over 800,000 miles of gas pipeline are in operation, nearly triple the mileage of 1945.

--This mileage will increase by 50 percent--to 1.2 million miles--by 1980. There is an operational failure in this network somewhere in the United States about every 5 days. Fortunately, most of the pipeline runs through sparsely populated rural areas, and fatalities due to explosions have been relatively low.

And yet a 1965 explosion in Natchitoches, La., gutted a 13-acre area, killed 17 people, burned five houses, and melted cars and rocks in the vicinity.

Clearly, the danger of such disasters increases with each passing year: --as more and more miles of pipe come into use,

--as existing pipe--some of it still in use after 30 and 40 years--becomes older,

--as the population of our cities moves closer and closer to transmission lines and distribution lines.

In my 1967 message on protecting the consumer, I proposed specific legislation to head off this growing danger. I called for it again in my State of the Union address this year. I am pleased that the Congress responded.

This bill directs the Secretary of Transportation to adopt interim minimum Federal safety standards for gas pipelines within 3 months and to establish minimum Federal safety standards within 24 months.

It represents a major step in protecting the American family against needless danger in using those products and services which enrich life in this country.

Note: As enacted, the bill (S. 1166) is Public Law 90-481 (82 Stat. 720), approved on August 12, 1968.
The statement was released at Austin, Texas.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Signing the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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