A report issued on Monday by the National Wildlife Federation asserts that federal laws regulating oil pipelines are inadequate in several crucial areas and that local regulations do not provide sufficient protection against safety and environmental risks.
The report complains that none of the eight states in the Great Lakes region requires pipeline companies to devise their own response plans in case of a spill to supplement federal requirements already in place.
The environmental group's research was prompted by a rupture of an Enbridge Energy pipeline accident near Marshall, Mich., in July 2010 that dumped more than 840,000 gallons of oil and led to the closing of a 39-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River.
Nearly two years after the accident, Calhoun County health officials announced this month that a three-mile portion of the river would reopen. The Environmental Protection Agency has said that additional segments may reopen later this year.
In addition to the accident in Michigan, an oil spill last July in the Yellowstone River in Montana prompted lawmakers and safety advocates to call for more stringent inspections of pipelines, as did a natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, Calif., in 2010 that killed eight people.
A New York Times examination of federal reports and pipeline data last year showed that the federal pipeline agency had a chronic shortage of inspectors and left a great deal of regulatory control in the hands of pipeline operators themselves.