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James Pates

James Pates

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, US Department of Transportation
Assistant Chief Counsel for Pipeline Safety, Safety Law Division
Washington, DC, USA


James M. Pates
Assistant Chief Counsel for Pipeline Safety
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation

James M. Pates serves as Assistant Chief Counsel for Pipeline Safety in the Office of Chief Counsel, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, DC.  In that capacity, he supervises a legal staff responsible for enforcement of the federal Pipeline Safety Laws and for providing a broad range of other legal services to the Office of Pipeline Safety, PHMSA, including rulemakings, advisory bulletins and other guidance, legislation, and litigation.  In recent years, PHMSA has intensified its civil and criminal enforcement efforts, including imposition of a $3.7 million administrative penalty and compliance order against Enbridge Energy, LP, for a major oil spill near Marshall, Michigan, in 2010, and settlement of a lawsuit brought jointly by PHMSA and EPA arising out of a 2006 BP oil spill on the North Slope of Alaska.

Prior to assuming his current position in 2004, Mr. Pates served for 18 years as the City Attorney of Fredericksburg, Virginia, where he was responsible for all of the City’s civil legal matters.  Beginning in 1990, he became active in pipeline issues as a result of two accidents in which the City lost its entire public water supply due to oil pipeline accidents.  He has published several papers on pipeline safety, produced a public education video for local governments, and served as a co-founder of the Pipeline Safety Trust, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving pipeline safety and environmental protection.

Prior to serving as City Attorney, he served as counsel for the Committee on Government Operations, U.S. House of Representatives, and had a private law practice in Virginia.  He received his undergraduate degree from Amherst College and his J.D. degree from the University of Virginia.

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