02/15/2013 02:51 EST | Updated 04/17/2013 05:12 EDT

Feds introduce financial penalties to increase pipeline safety

The federal government is introducing new financial penalties for companies found in violation of the law in an effort to increase pipeline safety, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver announced on Friday.

The proposed administrative monetary penalty regulations by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the National Energy Board were published in the Canada Gazette on Friday for a 30-day public comment period.

Under these new regulations, penalties would range up to $25,000 for individuals and up to $100,000 for corporations each day that they are out of compliance.

This is the federal government's latest step in their Responsible Resource Development plan as announced in last year's Bill C-38, the first of two omnibus budget bills.

"Our new administrative monetary penalties further strengthen environmental protection so that Canada's natural resources are developed in a responsible manner for the benefit of all Canadians," Oliver said in a written release.

The federal government says it has increased National Energy Board inspections of oil and gas pipelines by 50 per cent annually and doubled the number of comprehensive audits of oil and gas pipelines so that potential safety issues are easier to identify before they occur.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May told CBC News on Friday that the new penalties "are a step in the right direction, but not sufficiently impressive to make a difference" when you take into account the scale of a spill.

In a report last week, Environment Commissioner Scott Vaughan found that fines for damages caused by spills or other industrial accidents are inadequate and much lower than in other countries.

May also said she had hoped the federal government would have addressed the issue of low liability limits for nuclear, oil and gas, or tanker companies found at fault.

There currently is no liability cap when a company is at fault. But if there is no negligence, the top cap is $30 million in the Atlantic and $40 million in the Arctic. The rest of the tab is picked up by taxpayers.