Federal Agency Captured By Gas and Pipeline Industry

The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is responsible for overseeing, monitoring and maintaining 2.3 million miles of pipeline. A recent investigation conducted by Hearst Newspapers discovered that the federal agency is heavily influenced by the gas and pipeline industry which exercises a significant amount of control over the regulatory body’s decisions.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is working to limit industry influence in federal safety studies of the country’s onshore pipeline network. LaHood’s decision is directed against a 2002 Bush-era rule requiring the federal agency to receive at least half of its funding for safety research from outside sources. The Hearst investigation found that, since the ruling, the PHMSA’s research is largely managed according to industry interests.

The investigation revealed that out of 174 safety studies conducted in the last decade by the federal PHMSA, two-thirds were funded by pipeline operators or other industry-controlled groups. Of the total studies, 89 were funded by a combination of 5 industry organizations that provide research and 3 that provide lobbying expertise.

Todd Carmichael has made it to the South Pole!

We have just got word that American expeditionist and DeSmogBlog writer Todd Carmichael has made it to the South Pole. This makes Todd the very first American ever to reach the South Pole solo and unaided.

And to top it off, Todd has set a new time speed record!

Todd has been writing on DeSmogBlog and Huffington Post for the last year raising awarness about the negative impacts of human-caused global warming on the Antarctica. Here’s one of his most popular pieces: Something Strange is Happening at the Coldest, Driest Place on Earth

Wayne Moore, a physician’s assistant working at the South Pole, sends an update about Todd via the guestbook on this site: “To all his very concerned friends & family, he has made a rapid recovery from the trip and has become a local hero at the station.” Thanks very much for the word Wayne! Besides being an astronaut, I can’t think of anything cooler than working in Antarctica. Cheers to you and everyone else down there.

Now that you’re a hero Todd, you can get back to work helping us!

But seriously, we met Todd about a year ago when he asked if he could write on DeSmogBlog to help promote solutions to reducing greenhouse gas. After a cursory glance at his credentials we quickly obliged. In fact, we even made Todd his own section on the site.

Todd is one of those amazing people you read about that dream big and make the best of everything that life has to offer. The whole DeSmogBlog team is proud to be associated with Todd and really, really hope that he doesn’t come back from his trek too famous to write for us once in a while.

So over this holiday season when you pop a champagne cork, make sure one is dedicated to Todd.

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