Senator blocks pipeline safety bill on principle

By JOAN LOWY | September 27, 2011 | 3:10 AM EDT

FILE - In this June 29, 2011, file photo, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. speaks to reporters about balancing the budget on Capitol Hill in Washington. Paul who opposes federal regulation on philosophical grounds is single-handedly blocking legislation that would strengthen safety rules for oil and gas pipelines, legislation that even the pipeline industry and companies in his own state support. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A single senator is using his power to block legislation that would toughen safety regulations for pipelines even though the pipeline industry, safety advocates and even companies in his state support the measure.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky hasn't softened his stance even though a gas pipeline explosion last week shook constituents awake in three Kentucky counties.

Paul is a tea party adherent who is broadly opposed to new federal regulation. He won't discuss his role in holding up the bill. But industry lobbyists, safety advocates and Senate aides said he is the only senator who is refusing to agree to procedures that would permit swift passage of the measure.