Another example of 20/20 hindsight. The pipeline safety issue has a lot in common with the deep sea oil drilling matter: regulations dominated by industry for their benefit. ProPublica just published Fatal Pipeline Accident Turns Attention to Nation’s Aging Pipelines
…the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration [in the Dept. of Transportation], the federal agency that regulates 2.3 million miles of oil and natural gas pipelines, largely relies on standards written by the oil and gas industry. It has about 100 inspectors, leaving industry a great deal of latitude with inspections. (Even after the blast, state utility regulators ordered PG&E to inspect its own network of gas pipelines.)
And according to The Washington Independent, federal regulators are required to inspect only about 7 percent  of the country’s natural gas pipelines. That percentage is based on how populated the surrounding area is, and not the actual conditions of the pipelines.
Apparently, the needed improvements to the regulatory system are known. According to the San Francisco Examiner, the rules and regulations needed are known: Rules proposed after gas pipeline disasters, September 16, 2010
- Boxer, Feinstein Ask For Federal Investigation Of Pipelines (huffingtonpost.com)
- “California Gas Explosion Raises New Questions About Pipeline Safety” and related posts (washingtonindependent.com)