Naked City

Doggett Questions Longhorn Stability

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett also directly entered the Longhorn Pipeline fray Wednesday, submitting a lengthy letter to U.S. Dept. of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta urging him to withhold approval of the pipeline's "spill response plan," required under the 1990 Oil Pollution Act. Doggett's letter recounts in detail the environmental concerns associated with the pipeline, reiterated in federal Judge Sam Sparks' reluctant recent ruling to allow the pipeline to proceed without a full environmental impact study. Doggett cites the judge's recommendation that it would be "reasonable to order Longhorn to replace the 52-year-old pipeline in all populated areas and in areas that affect people's drinking water supply."

Doggett also describes at some length the current financial troubles of the pipeline's backers -- specifically the Williams Companies, reportedly near bankruptcy. "With Longhorn keeping the financial resources of the limited liability partnership hidden," Doggett wrote, "it appears at this point that the only authority to access financial responsibility is through the Office of Pipeline Safety's regulatory responsibility" under the Dept. of Transportation. Doggett urged Mineta to "withhold approval of Longhorn's spill response plan until the financial wherewithal of this partnership and its limited partners has been thoroughly aired, with a full opportunity for public input."

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