The Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee (GPAC) will meet in Washington, D.C. next month to discuss PHMSA’s proposed gas rules. The meetings are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, December 7-8, 2017, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. both days. The meetings will not be webcast, but materials will become available on the www.regulations.gov website within 30 days after the sessions end (search for docket number PHMSA-2016-0136). PHMSA asks anyone planning to attend to register by December 1.
The purpose of the meetings is to discuss the proposed rule titled “Safety of Gas Transmission and Gathering Pipelines” that was issued for public comment on April 8, 2016 (See our posts from April 7, 2016 and May 9, 2016). The comment period closed on July 7, 2016. This rulemaking is one of the largest in the history of the Agency. If finalized as proposed, the rulemaking would nearly double the current number of pages in the 49 C.F.R. Parts 191 and 192 regulations. The rulemaking proposes expanded scope for system integrity, expanded areas subject to in line inspection (ILI) and expanded repair criteria (both within and without the boundaries of HCAs), and new recordkeeping requirements, among other changes. The rule would also significantly expand the number of onshore gathering lines subject to PHMSA regulation. The massive proposed rule prompted substantial comment from operators and industry trade groups, including calls to urge PHMSA to reconsider many of the broad proposals.
Technical Advisory Committees (there is one for both gas pipelines and oil pipelines) are comprised of 15 members each, including representatives from federal and state governments, industry and the public. PHMSA is required to obtain input from the GPAC before finalizing the proposed rule (although it is not required to accept recommendations from the Committee). GPAC’s December meeting likely represents the last opportunity for public input on this significant proposed rule.