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Pipeline Law

Category Archives: Federal/ State Legislation

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House Bill Reflects Ongoing Resistance to New Pipeline Construction

Posted in Construction & Design, Environmental, Federal/ State Legislation, Natural Gas, Policy
Recently proposed legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives would require FERC to revise its review process for proposed natural gas pipeline expansion projects to include additional analysis of cumulative impacts in a single region or State and extended environmental monitoring.  While this bill is unlikely to gain traction in the Republican-controlled House, it is indicative… Continue Reading

Pipeline Safety Legislation Headed for the President’s Signature

Posted in Federal/ State Legislation, Natural Gas, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act, Policy
Congress has approved amendments to the Pipeline Safety Act (PSA), reauthorizing PHMSA’s pipeline safety program through 2019. The bill is expected to reach the President’s desk soon to be signed into law. S. 2276 was approved in the House of Representatives by voice vote in the first week of June, representing a compromise between two… Continue Reading

Legislative Action on Transportation and Energy Bills

Posted in Federal/ State Legislation, Incident Response, Infrastructure Security, Natural Gas, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act, Policy
Several legislative developments of significance to the pipeline and energy transportation industries are in progress, with the introduction of a bipartisan pipeline safety reauthorization bill in the House, the passage of a bipartisan energy bill in the Senate, and the passage of a bill in the Senate that provides for the use of drones to… Continue Reading

DOT IG Recommends Lowering Pipeline Safety Criminal Liability Standard to ‘Reckless’

Posted in Federal/ State Legislation, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act, Policy
As the U.S. House of Representatives considers reauthorization of the Pipeline Safety Act (PSA), a House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee requested input from the Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of Inspector General (OIG) on ways to enhance the enforcement of criminal pipeline safety laws under the PSA.  In a letter dated March 8, 2016, DOT Inspector… Continue Reading

Another Step Closer to Federal Regulation of Underground Storage

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Environmental, Federal/ State Legislation, Integrity Management, Natural Gas, PHMSA, Policy
The ongoing leak of methane from Southern California Natural Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon/Porter Ranch underground storage field near Los Angeles has drawn national attention to underground natural gas storage, triggering regulatory and legislative efforts to regulate these facilities at federal and state levels.… Continue Reading

Crude Oil Export Ban Repealed

Posted in Administrative Rulemaking, Federal/ State Legislation, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act, Policy
Congress passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill (H.R. 2029) that contains a provision to end the United States’ ban on crude oil exports and earmarks for funding the federal pipeline safety program.  The measure passed in the House (316-113) and the Senate (64-33) on Friday, December 18, and was signed by President Obama later that… Continue Reading

Additional Underground Natural Gas Storage Regulation Contemplated

Posted in Environmental, Federal/ State Legislation, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act
Further Regulation of Underground Natural Gas Storage is under consideration by several state and federal agencies. Gas storage helps moderate supply and demand. As a result, natural gas and related gas products have been stored underground for many years, either in depleted oil or gas field formations, aquifers or salt caverns. Above ground aspects of… Continue Reading

Senate Pipeline Safety Act Reauthorization Bill Advances

Posted in Administrative Rulemaking, Federal/ State Legislation, Integrity Management, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act
A bipartisan group of Senators who serve on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation introduced a Pipeline Safety Act reauthorization bill in November, the Securing America’s Future Energy: Protecting Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (SAFE PIPES) Act [link], Senate Bill 2276. That bill was approved by the Committee on December 9, 2015 with five amendments. … Continue Reading

Pipeline Safety Field Hearing Provides Insight to PHMSA Priorities; Second Hearing Scheduled

Posted in Enforcement, Environmental, Federal/ State Legislation, Integrity Management, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act
As the September 30th deadline for the Pipeline Safety Act reauthorization draws near, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation convened a pipeline safety field hearing in Billings, Montana and recently scheduled a second hearing for September 29th in Washington, DC. … Continue Reading

PHMSA Comes Under Scrutiny as Pipeline Safety Act Reauthorization Draws Near

Posted in Administrative Rulemaking, Federal/ State Legislation, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act
The Pipeline Safety Act (PSA) is up for reauthorization at the end of September of this year and, in the wake of recent high-profile incidents and increased scrutiny of the effectiveness of PHMSA pipeline safety oversight, it remains to be seen whether Congress will impose new substantive amendments to the statute or simply pass a… Continue Reading

How Will EPA’s New Definition of “Waters of the U.S.” Affect Oil & Gas Pipelines?

Posted in Administrative Rulemaking, Environmental, Federal/ State Legislation, Integrity Management, Policy
Amid considerable controversy, the U.S. EPA and Army Corps of Engineers (the agencies) issued a Final Rule on May 27, 2015, re-defining and expanding the definition of jurisdictional “waters of the U.S.” under the federal Clean Water Act. … Continue Reading

Senate Committee Approves Cybersecurity Bill As Infrastructure Security Concerns Grow

Posted in Federal/ State Legislation, Infrastructure Security
The Senate Intelligence Committee recently approved the “Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act”, which would facilitate the sharing of information about cybersecurity threats or countermeasures by among private entities and with the federal government.  If information is shared in accordance with certain requirements (such as the use of technical controls to protect shared information), the bill provides… 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

States Increasingly Active in Oil Spill Response and Pipeline Safety

Posted in Federal/ State Legislation, Incident Response, Pipeline Safety Act
In response to recent oil spills by rail and pipeline as well as a report by DOT’s Office of Inspector General criticizing PHMSA oversight of state pipeline safety programs, states are becoming increasingly active in oil spill response and oil transportation safety.  Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA), state spill response regulations may… 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

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

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

President Signs Bill Regarding PHMSA Incorporation of Documents by Reference

Posted in Federal/ State Legislation, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act, Policy
On August 12, 2013, the President signed H.R. 2576  into law, which revises and relaxes the Pipeline Safety Act’s new requirement at 49 U.S.C. 60102(p) regarding new regulations and guidance issued by PHMSA that incorporate documents by reference. More specifically, the bill revises 49 U.S.C. 60102(p), added by the Pipeline Safety Act amendments passed in… Continue Reading

Congress Passes Bill Regarding PHMSA’s Incorporation of Documents by Reference

Posted in Federal/ State Legislation, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act, Policy
On August 1, 2013, the Senate passed by unanimous consent H.R. 2576 , which would revise and relax the Pipeline Safety Act’s new requirement at 49 U.S.C. 60102(p) regarding new regulations and guidance issued by PHMSA that incorporate documents by reference.  More specifically, the bill would revise 49 U.S.C. 60102(p), added by the Pipeline Safety… Continue Reading

House Committee Issues Report Recommending Assessment and Repair of Leaking Distribution Systems

Posted in Federal/ State Legislation, Policy
The Democratic staff of the House Natural Resources Committee issued a report entitled:  “America Pays for Gas Leaks: Natural Gas Pipeline Leaks Cost Consumers Billions”.  The report concludes that leaks and “lost and unaccounted for” natural gas from aging distribution systems result in unacceptable costs to consumers, contribute to climate change, and threaten public health… 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