Sen. Rand Paul is currently giving America yet another lesson in Liberty.
This time, it’s not about federal bureaucrats plugging his toilet or how the government should allow businesses to refuse service to people based on the color of their skin, but about how the federal government should not regulate oil and gas pipelines by requiring shut-off valves in new pipelines that could save lives when there is an accident or a leak.
Even though the gas and pipeline industry is 100 percent in favor of such regulation.
Yes, Rand Paul is singlehandedly blocking the Pipeline Transportation Safety Improvement Act of 2011 in the Senate by putting a hold on the legislation, not allowing it to receive unanimous approval, even though it is very modest regulation (the valves are only required on new pipelines, not the older ones that are much more likely to leak) and it is supported by the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, the American Gas Association and the Association of Oil Pipelines, and their lobbyists.
Why? Well, because any new regulation — no matter how common sense it is — is bad regulation.
“Sen. Paul doesn’t think new regulations and the creation of dozens of bureaucratic positions should be swept through without sufficient debate and vote,” said his spokeswoman, Moira Bagley.
Debate, yes. Rand Paul could stand on the Senate floor and say something to the effect of: “Sure, without this regulation a pipeline could explode and kill people, or reek environmental devastation … but sometimes Liberty requires it.”
Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, represents a district including San Bruno, where a pipeline explosion killed eight people last year. Here’s what she had to say about Sen. Liberty Christ:
“Senator Paul is blinded by ideology and in my view, indifferent to the overwhelming evidence that self regulation of the gas industry is a prescription for further death and injury. We must learn the lessons of the deadly pipeline explosion in San Bruno that killed eight of my constituents. The gas industry is in desperate need of strong regulation and oversight. The Senate bill is a good start but fails to take into account many of the recommendations released this week by the National Transportation Safety Board in its report on San Bruno, such as making sure older pipelines are pressure tested. The Senate bill should serve as a baseline for pipeline safety legislation with room for Congress to go further and embrace the NTSB’s recommendations. But Senator Paul won’t even allow us to begin that conversation. Senator Paul should stop being an industry apologist and allow the important debate on pipeline safety to proceed.”
But the truth of the matter is, Paul is not being an industry apologist … because the entire industry supports the bill. Even those in Kentucky, who have tried to persuade him:
“We thought (the bill) provided a reasonable framework and good congressional guidance for the regulators to go ahead and proceed down a path that would enhance pipeline safety over time,” said Jerry Morris, president and CEO of Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline Inc. of Owensboro, Ky., who spoke to Paul about the issue during a meeting in Owensboro in June.
But perhaps Paul knows better than the industry itself about this vicious assault on their Liberty.
I wondered last year if Rand Paul would follow in the footsteps of his father, Ron Paul, who often is the lone dissenting vote on 434-1 votes in the House, the difference being that Senate rules allow just one Senator to hold up the legislative process. Well, it looks as if that’s finally happening.
Because sometimes a strange conception of Liberty requires it.