WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sen. John McCain introduced a bill Thursday that would boost pipeline safety requirements, increase training for pipeline operators and make more information about pipelines available to the public.
The move by the Arizona Republican increases chances for a pipeline safety bill to be passed ths year, Washington state lawmakers say.
The former presidential candidate is chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, the panel with jurisdiction over pipeline issues.
Washington state's senators, Republican Slade Gorton and Democrat Patty Murray, signed on as co-sponsors of the bill.
''It really guarantees action quickly in the Senate,'' Cynthia Bergman, Gorton's spokeswoman, said of McCain's action.
Hopes are also high for legislation this year because Congress is scheduled to reauthorize the 1990 Pipeline Safety Act, which regulates interstate pipelines.
''The King and Tsiorvas Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2000'' introduced by McCain is named for two of the three people who died following a pipeline leak and explosion last year in Bellingham, Wash.
Wade King and Steven Tsiorvas, both 10, and 18-year-old Liam Wood died.
McCain, whose staff members met this week with Frank King, Wade's father, said the senator hopes to pass the bill out of his committee before Memorial Day.
The Clinton administration on Tuesday unveiled its proposal to boost pipeline safety requirements, and lawmakers in the House and Senate have since introduced the proposal in bill form.
While McCain's bill shares many similarities with the administration proposal, it envisions a smaller role for states in overseeing pipelines.
''A mishmash of state laws regarding the construction, maintenance, training and operation of pipelines would certainly hamper commerce and would likely not improve safety,'' McCain said in a statement.
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