Pipeline Safety Bill Signed by Gov. Greg Abbott

House Bill 866 was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott and will take effect immediately.

The governor's signature marks the final step in the bill process for HB 866 authored by Texas Rep Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas), which passed both the House and Senate chambers on May 19.

Anchia introduced a slate of pipeline safety bills during the 86th legislative session in direct response to the Feb. 23, 2018 natural gas explosion in Dallas that took the life of 12-year-old Linda "Michellita" Rogers.

He began the legislative session honoring Michellita's memory on the House floor with House Resolution 548, and worked all session to pass legislation that would increase pipeline safety and reduce the risk of another life being lost in a pipeline explosion.

House Bill 866 prohibits operators from installing cast iron, wrought iron, or bare steel pipelines underground, and requires operators to remove all known underground cast iron pipelines by Dec. 31, 2021.

In addition, the legislation requires a 60% increase in the replacement of the riskiest pipes statewide.

A provision of HB 866 provides that the act takes effect immediately if it receives a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each chamber. Since the bill exceeded this vote threshold, it is effective immediately, nearly three months ahead of the prescribed date.

"Nothing can alleviate the pain and sadness we feel from losing young Michellita far too early. We can, however, work to reduce the risk of tragedies like this from happening again," Anchia said. "I am proud to have fought hard to pass this bill in Michellita's memory. It will make our communities safer, and save lives."

Atmos Energy settled a lawsuit with Rogers' family last month.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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