Federal One Call and Damage Prevention Law Pursued by CAMO

All 50 states have some type of One Call and damage prevention law, ordinance or regulation, but what about those areas outside of a state’s jurisdiction? Areas within United States boundaries where individual state rules do not apply, areas which are governed and controlled solely by federal agencies? These areas have no One Call
or damage prevention laws and closing this gap is the focus of a Costal And Marine Operators (CAMO) initiative.

CAMO is a non-profit industry group which originally began its focus on marine damage prevention outreach. It has expanded its goals to include more traditional damage prevention efforts and innovative solutions. One of those initiatives is designing and passing the first Federal One Call and Damage Prevention Law using best practices learned from individual states. We all know the wheels of government never turn as fast as we want and passing any new legislation is a challenge. However, that’s no excuse for not trying and doing the right thing — helping protect infrastructure, the environ-ment and people from harm in “federal areas,” just as we do within each state.

The foundation of our argument for a new federal law will be based on damage case studies in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) of the Gulf of Mexico, a region where many CAMO member companies have extensive experience. This law can be applied in other regions of the United States under federal control as well. The goal in the Gulf is to protect marinersand the public from bodily harm, and protect the environment from hydrocarbon releases and spills caused by unintended third-party interactions, strikes and encroachments with marine pipelines, utilities and other infrastructure. The results of protecting the Gulf’s pipeline network alone from damage and downtime should not be understated. Nearly 40% of the nation’s energy traverses the Gulf through pipelines. Other utilities, like crucial submarine power and communication lines, are becoming more prevalent and are also at risk in federallycontrolled areas. A federal damage prevention law would apply to all OCS waters, including the Pacific, Atlantic and Alaska. Additionally, there could be “inland” areas that are not technically
within a state’s jurisdiction where a federal law could apply, an issue that may need some vettin

CAMO’s action plan in 2017 is to design and propose federal jurisdiction legislation that will require prior One Call notification to a public “notification center” for any industrial or construction type activities that will contact the water bottom. Additionally, it will propose a federal enforcement means for the associated legislation. CAMO has a sub-committee in place leading this initiative. One of our challenges will be further defining specific activities that will constitute a One Call and define what activities can be enforced if a One Call notification is not made or when infrastructure damage occurs. Defining and educating stakeholders is also a critical part of the overall plan.

The basic premise is that state damage prevention laws and jurisdiction “terminate” at each state’s boundary, leaving infrastructure, pipelines, telecom and other utilities in federal areas unprotected and exposed to damage. In the Gulf of Mexico alone, these damages have resulted in numerous injuries to mariners and oil spills in sensitive marine environments (not to mention the average marine damage can easily cost $1 million to repair). These regions have a projected rise in
construction and industrial activities in coming years. In this region, we feel quick action needs to
be taken to protect mariners and the environment from further damage, while decreasing downtime
and maintaining our nation’s energy security. For more information or to join CAMO, visit www. camogroup.org or email info@camogroup.org.

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