Monday, August 30, 2010

API belatedly decides to make many of its safety standards public

WASHINGTON - The American Petroleum Institute (API) announced on Aug. 23 that it is making publicly available online for the first time more than 160 safety standards.
API has been criticized for controlling distribution of the standards. The standards were not easily accessible to the public, with copies available at the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and API in Washington, but were not available online where an interested citizen could access them.
The move comes as PHMSA regulators are being criticized for adopting as federal regulations many standards written by the industry.
API has admitted that all or part of 27 standards on pipeline safety that were later adopted by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and its predecessors were in fact written by industry panels.
The now-defunct Minerals Management Service was also dependent on the oil and natural gas industry for developing standards.
In a statement announcing that the standards would be made available online, API President Jack Gerard said: “As API standards have been referenced in the federal register in rulemaking procedures, having copies available for public review in only a few locations did not meet our industry's goal of transparency. The industry's standards represent our commitment to
safe and successful operations and practices. Wider access through
online viewing platforms is part of our public commitment.”
The 160 standards that will be posted online - about one-third of the
total body of standards written by API - will include all regulations that
have been adopted by reference in federal regulations and all standards that relate to safety, API says.

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