PHMSA published an Information Collection Renewal Notice in June regarding the renewal of existing data that the Agency collects through the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS). 78 Fed. Reg. 36016 (June 14, 2013). Since that time, the Agency received one comment from the Pipeline Safety Trust (PST) requesting the following improvements to the data collected by the NPMS: (1) increase the accuracy of HCA data to assist local community emergency-planning efforts; (2) require that operators update NPMS information annually; and (3) require that operators provide system-specific information through the NPMS, such as pipe diameter, operating pressure, product transported, and potential impact radius. On September 18, 2013, PHMSA responded to the comment noting that it will consider these suggestions when evaluating further changes to the NPMS data requirements and by extending the comment period an additional thirty days to October 18, 2013. 78 Fed. Reg. 57455 (September 19, 2013). As discussed in a prior Pipelinelaw practice pointer on increased FOIA requests, PST’s comments touch upon issues related to sensitive infrastructure data, such as detailed information regarding pipeline location and characteristics, that may be protected from disclosure to third parties for security reasons under FOIA. The industry should be mindful of the risks inherent in making this information publicly available on the internet and possible options for limiting access to sensitive pipeline infrastructure information.
In addition, on September 30, 2013 PHMSA extended the comment period associated with its Notice of inquiry regarding whether integrity management requirements should be expanded beyond high consequence areas and whether that would mitigate the need for class location requirements with respect to natural gas transmission pipelines. 78 Fed. Reg. 59906 (September 30, 2013). In response to requests from API and AGA for additional time, the Agency has extended the deadline for submitting comments on the Notice to November 1, 2013.