Pipeline Law

Pipeline Law

Category Archives: Construction & Design

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Draft Revisions to FERC Environmental Report Manual Available for Comment

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Construction & Design, Environmental, Policy
FERC recently published a revised draft Guidance Manual for Environmental Report Preparation for review and public comment. The revised Guidance Manual updates FERC’s 2002 guidance manual on environmental report preparation for projects seeking FERC authorization under the Natural Gas Act (NGA), supplementing the previous guidance as well as adding new sections explaining requirements for environmental report preparation. … Continue Reading

New Pipeline Construction Issues: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Considers Allowing Incidental Takes Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Posted in Administrative Rulemaking, Construction & Design, Enforcement, Environmental
Construction of new pipeline (especially gas) or other energy infrastructure often encounters issues arising from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA or Act). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS or the Service) recently announced its intent to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of a proposal to authorize incidental takes of birds under the MBTA.… Continue Reading

PHMSA Proposes Amendments to Regulations to Address the Use of Plastic Pipe in Gas Service

Posted in Administrative Rulemaking, Construction & Design, Operation & Maintenance, PHMSA, Recordkeeping
PHMSA has published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), proposing various changes to the natural gas pipeline safety regulations (49 C.F.R. Part 192) to address regulatory requirements involving plastic piping systems used in gas services. … Continue Reading

PHMSA Final Rule Amends Numerous Pipeline Safety Regulations

Posted in Administrative Rulemaking, Construction & Design, Integrity Management, Operation & Maintenance, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act, Policy, Reporting Obligations
PHMSA issued a Final Rule that amends various Part 195 and 192 regulations relating to post-construction inspections, welding, gas component pressure testing requirements, and calculating pressure reductions for immediate repairs on liquid pipelines, among other changes.… Continue Reading

PHMSA Broadly Interprets Its Construction Oversight Authority

Posted in Construction & Design, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act
The authority of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to establish minimum safety standards for the design, installation, and construction of pipeline facilities is clearly set forth in the Pipeline Safety Act (49 U.S.C. § 601 et seq.) (PSA or the Act), as is its authority to conduct design review of certain new facilities and new and novel technology by virtue of the 2012 amendments. … Continue Reading

House Approves Bill to Reform Permitting Process for Cross-Border Pipelines, Despite Presidential Opposition

Posted in Construction & Design, Federal/ State Legislation, Policy
Despite veto threats from the Obama Administration, H.R. 3301, the “North American Energy Infrastructure Act”, passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 238 to 173 on June 24, 2014.  The purpose of the bill (subject of a prior post) is to eliminate the Presidential permitting process for cross-border pipelines and electric… Continue Reading

Environmental Groups Continue Judicial Challenges to Keystone XL

Posted in Construction & Design, Environmental
The Sierra Club recently filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), alleging that the Corps wrongfully withheld documents pertaining to its evaluation of the environmental impacts of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.  In March 2013, the Sierra Club requested preconstruction notifications (PCNs) submitted… Continue Reading

Government Inaction: Fate of Keystone XL Remains Political

Posted in Construction & Design, Environmental, Federal/ State Legislation, Policy
The State Department recently released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Keystone XL Pipeline. As a final installment to the project's review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the FEIS assesses the potential impacts associated with the proposed pipeline and its alternatives.… Continue Reading

Changing U.S. Energy Markets Prompt Increased Pipeline Flow Reversals and Conversions

Posted in Construction & Design, Operation & Maintenance, Policy
The changing U.S. energy market continues to have a dramatic effect on the construction and operation of oil and gas pipeline infrastructure. One of the largest new pipeline construction projects in the past several decades – the nearly 1,700 mile Rockies Express gas pipeline between Wyoming and Ohio (REX) – began operation in 2009, with a west to east direction of flow.… Continue Reading

House Votes on Two New Pieces of Proposed Pipeline Legislation

Posted in Construction & Design, Environmental, Federal/ State Legislation, Policy
Two bills aimed at expediting pipeline construction permitting and, in turn, U.S. energy production are moving through the House of Representatives, but face opposition in the Senate and the White House. The Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act passed the House of Representatives by a large majority on Thursday, November 21, 2013.… Continue Reading

Grants for Pipeline Safety Research Increase

Posted in Construction & Design, Operation & Maintenance, PHMSA
In a growing trend, PHMSA has recently awarded substantive grants for pipeline safety research to numerous universities, consultants, and local pipeline safety groups.  Collectively, these grants highlight the Agency’s increased focus on improved technologies for detecting pipeline defects, pipeline construction quality assurance and quality control, and public awareness education and training.… Continue Reading

Congress Considers North American Energy Infrastructure Act

Posted in Construction & Design, Environmental, Federal/ State Legislation, Policy
On October 22, 2013, House Representatives Upton (R-MI) and Green (D-TX) introduced the North American Energy Infrastructure Act, H.R. 3301. The bill is intended to streamline the permitting process for cross-border pipelines and electric transmission facilities by eliminating the Presidential permitting process, requiring that all requests for approval of cross-border oil pipelines be administered directly by the Secretary of Commerce and all requests for natural gas pipeline crossings be administered directly by FERC.… Continue Reading

Texas Railroad Commission Adopts Amendments to Oil & Gas Well Construction Rules

Posted in Construction & Design, Federal/ State Legislation
The Texas Railroad Commission on May 24th adopted amendments to the Commission’s well construction requirements rule (Statewide Rule 13) to clarify current oil and gas well construction requirements related to casing, cementing, drilling, well control and completions, particularly with regard to hydraulic fracturing operations. Among other things, the amendments impose new obligations regarding pressure testing,… Continue Reading

Expedited Permitting Bill Introduced in House

Posted in Construction & Design, Environmental, Federal/ State Legislation
Representative Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) introduced HR 1900, to provide for timely consideration of licenses, permits, and approvals with respect to the siting, construction, expansion, or operation of any natural gas pipeline projects. The bill would amend the Natural Gas Act by requiring FERC to approve or deny a certificate of public convenience or necessity no… Continue Reading

Vermont Regulators Issue Jurisdictional Opinion Applying State NEPA to Pipeline Flow Reversal Projects

Posted in Construction & Design, Environmental, Judicial/ Administrative Decisions
On April 15, 2013, the Vermont Natural Resources Board (Board) issued a jurisdictional opinion that Act 250, the State’s land use permitting statute, would apply to flow reversal projects for transport of Canadian tar sands oil.  The opinion was the result of a petition by several environmental groups seeking review of a possible reversal of… Continue Reading

Notice of Availability of Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) on Keystone XL

Posted in Construction & Design, Environmental, Policy
TransCanada’s proposed new pipeline construction project to carry tar sands oil from Canada to the US Gulf Coast received considerable scrutiny when initially proposed. Because the new pipeline crosses an international border, it requires a Presidential Permit from the State Department, and that process in turn requires preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under… Continue Reading

GAO Issues Report on Natural Gas Permitting Processes

Posted in Construction & Design, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act
In response to the PSA amendments of 2011, GAO reviewed permitting processes for both interstate and intrastate natural gas pipeline projects given the recent increase in pipelines needed to manage the growth in domestic natural gas production.  While the report does not make any particular recommendations, it does examine the various permit processes necessary to… Continue Reading

INGAA Releases Study Finding Increased Delays in Non-FERC Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting

Posted in Construction & Design, Federal/ State Legislation, PHMSA, Policy
Despite the goal of the 2005 Energy Policy Act’s (EPAct) to streamline and expedite permitting for natural gas pipeline construction projects, a recent study funded by INGAA found that non-FERC agencies have experienced increased delays in permitting projects. The percentage of federal authorizations issued more than 90 days beyond FERC’s issuance of its final NEPA… Continue Reading