Under OPA 90, certain pipeline operators must prepare Facility Response Plans (FRPs), submit them to PHMSA, and review and revise them every five years (49 CFR Part 194). After the Deepwater Horizon incident, PHMSA reminded operators, among other things, to submit updates to their FRPs within thirty days if new or different operating conditions could affect full implementation of the plan. ADB-10-05 (June 28, 2010). Amendments to the Pipeline Safety Act in 2011 that became effective Jan. 3, 2012, require PHMSA to maintain copies of FRPs submitted by operators, and to make those plans available to the public (although FOIA exemptions still apply).In addition, the NTSB also recommended that DOT audit PHMSA’s Part 194 program and that PHMSA amend its Part 194 regulations to address the issue of adequate response resources, as part of its July 2012 Accident Report on the Enbridge Marshall, Michigan incident.Most recently, in April of this year, the citizen group PEER filed a lawsuit in federal court against PHMSA, using FOIA to seek copies of all FRPs submitted by pipeline operators in the United States. Although the lawsuit narrowly challenges FOIA exemptions, PEER has stated that it intends to press PHMSA to require more detailed FRPs, more frequent revision, and annual inspections of pipeline facilities by PHMSA to test compliance with Part 194 requirements.More recently, a ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee issued enquiries regarding FRPs.PHMSA is under considerable pressure to organize its FRP records, review and amend its Part 194 program, and resolve challenges from the citizen group regarding emergency drills and inspections. Not surprisingly, the Agency has even asked some companies to assist in this process, especially regarding the reconstruction of its FRP database. We are following these developments closely, and additional updates will be posted as new information develops. If you have not already done so, you should review your FRP(s) for compliance.