February 15, 2019

Senator Warren Statement on Change in Leadership at Columbia Gas

Washington, DC - Today, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) released the following statement following the news that Mark Kempic will take over as President and COO of Columbia Gas after the current President Steve Bryant retires on May 1st:

"A change in leadership can be a move in the right direction, but this disaster wasn't caused solely by one person. We need Columbia Gas and its parent company NiSource to stop putting profits over safety and to completely overhaul their work programs to ensure this never happens again."

After gas explosions devastated the communities of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover on September 13th, 2018, Senators Warren and Markey launched a campaign to safely restore residents' gas service and hold responsible parties accountable. They called on government officials to provide emergency support to residents of the Merrimack Valley, and successfully secured emergency assistance for the region's small businesses.

In a November 2018 field hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Senators Warren and Markey questioned Steve Bryant and Joseph Hamrock, CEO of NiSource, the parent company of Columbia Gas, about an interim NTSB report that suggested a pervasive culture of disregard for basic safety provisions at Columbia Gas was to blame for the explosions. Senators Warren and Markey grilled the executives about repercussions they had faced in connection to the explosions, and found that their salaries had not been reduced by one cent.