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Category Archives: Natural Gas

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Recently Confirmed FERC and PHMSA Leaders Push Forward Pipeline Projects and Bring Renewed Focus to Pipeline Safety

Posted in Natural Gas, PHMSA, Policy
Recent months have seen the appointment and confirmation of top posts in key pipeline regulatory agencies, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). While developments are generally good news for the pipeline industry—in that they are likely to mean expeditious project approvals and a clear chain of command at the agencies—the past few weeks have seen interesting departures from past practices, as discussed in more detail below.… Continue Reading

FERC: Water Quality Certification Waiver Period for Pipeline Projects Begins Upon Receipt of a Written Request for Certification

Posted in Environmental, Judicial/ Administrative Decisions, Natural Gas
On September 15, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or the Commission) issued an order in which it concluded that delays by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC or the Department) in processing Millennium Pipeline Company’s application for Clean Water Act (CWA) water quality certification constituted a waiver of the certification requirement. … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Upholds State Veto of Constitution Pipeline Project Via Denial of Water Quality Certification

Posted in Environmental, Judicial/ Administrative Decisions, Natural Gas
As previously reported on PipelineLaw, the ongoing controversy over an April 2016 decision by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC or the Department) to deny a Clean Water Act (CWA) water quality certification to Constitution Pipeline Company (Constitution or the Company) for its interstate natural gas pipeline project in Pennsylvania and New York highlights tensions between federal and state oversight of such projects.… Continue Reading

D.C. Circuit: FERC to Decide Water Quality Certification Waiver for Natural Gas Pipeline Projects

Posted in Natural Gas
As reported in The Nickel Report, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last week dismissed an interstate natural gas pipeline company’s challenge to the State of New York’s delay in issuing a water quality certification under section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). The case is one of several pending across the country that involve a state’s authority to issue, deny, or waive a CWA water quality certification for interstate natural gas pipeline projects.… Continue Reading

Texas Challenges PHMSA Underground Natural Gas Storage Rule

Posted in Administrative Rulemaking, Natural Gas, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act
The state of Texas and the Texas Railroad Commission have petitioned the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to review PHMSA’s interim final rule regulating underground natural gas storage facilities. As required by the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016, PHMSA published an interim final rule last December establishing minimum federal safety standards for underground natural gas storage facilities, which became effective in January. Such facilities have come under increased scrutiny since the 2015 Aliso Canyon storage field leak that lasted almost four months.… Continue Reading

Advisory on Deactivation of Integrity Management Threats

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Integrity Management, Natural Gas, PHMSA, Recordkeeping
A new Advisory on deactivation of threats for gas transmission lines was issued by PHMSA on March 15, 2017 (to be published in the March 16, 2017 Federal Register). Amidst uncertainty about the fate of various proposed and final rules issued by PHMSA and other federal agencies under the new Administration due to the Regulatory Freeze Executive Memorandum of January 20, 2017 and other executive orders, PHMSA’s issuance of this clarifying guidance regarding minimum criteria for deactivation of integrity threats is notable. … Continue Reading

Concerns about HCA Identification Methods Prompts Advisory

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Integrity Management, Natural Gas, Operation & Maintenance, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act
Citing concerns that intrastate and small gas transmission pipeline operators may not be accurately identifying high consequence areas (HCAs) as part of their integrity management programs (IMP), PHMSA issued yet another advisory to the industry on December 12, 2016.  In its seventh advisory issued this year, PHMSA explains the need for further guidance on the methodology… Continue Reading

Underground Natural Gas Storage Interim Final Rule Issued

Posted in Administrative Rulemaking, Construction & Design, Natural Gas, Operation & Maintenance, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act, Reporting Obligations
PHMSA has issued an interim final rule (IFR) to establish – for the first time ever – minimum federal standards for underground natural gas storage facilities. The IFR imposes significant new requirements in a short timeframe for “downhole facilities,” including wells, wellbore tubing and casings at underground natural gas storage facilities.… Continue Reading

GPAC Public Meetings to Discuss PHMSA Gas Rule Rescheduled

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Integrity Management, Natural Gas, Operation & Maintenance, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act
PHMSA has rescheduled the public meetings of the Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee (GPAC) for January 11-12, 2017.  The purpose of these meetings is to discuss PHMSA’s proposed gas mega rule and the underlying regulatory analysis.  The meetings were previously scheduled for December 7-8, 2016, but have been rescheduled based on the availability of committee members… Continue Reading

Pipeline Blast Highlights Necessity of Proper Abandonment Procedures

Posted in Enforcement, Integrity Management, Natural Gas, Operation & Maintenance, Pipeline Safety Act
A previously abandoned natural gas pipeline exploded in Seattle, Washington on March 9, 2016, injuring nine firefighters, destroyed two buildings, and damaged multiple nearby structures.  The entity responsible for regulating intrastate and interstate gas pipelines in the state, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, recently released a report from its investigation of the incident, concluding that… Continue Reading

Pipe Subject to Safety Regulations Until Formally Abandoned: PHMSA Advisory

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Enforcement, Natural Gas, Operation & Maintenance, PHMSA, Recordkeeping, Reporting Obligations
PHMSA issued an advisory to operators regarding the applicability of its safety regulations to idled, inactive and abandoned pipe. Congress directed PHMSA to issue such an advisory in the recent PIPES Act of 2016, in response to several high profile incidents involving idled pipe. … Continue Reading

Federal Appellate Review of State Agency Decisions for Interstate Natural Gas Projects Confirmed

Posted in Construction & Design, Environmental, Judicial/ Administrative Decisions, Natural Gas, Policy
The Third Circuit held in a highly anticipated recent decision that state actions on water quality-related permits for interstate natural gas pipeline projects are reviewable only in the federal Circuit Courts of Appeals, in accordance with the Natural Gas Act (NGA). … Continue Reading

Constitution Pipeline Cases Reflect Tension in States’ Roles in Permitting Natural Gas Projects

Posted in Construction & Design, Environmental, Judicial/ Administrative Decisions, Natural Gas, Policy
Recent developments in cases brought by Constitution Pipeline Company to challenge New York’s denial of certain water quality authorizations highlight tensions between federal and state oversight of interstate natural gas pipeline construction projects, and the accompanying potential for costly and protracted delays. … Continue Reading

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

Agencies Continue Planning for Regulation of Underground Gas Storage

Posted in Natural Gas, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act, Reauthorization
In response to the Aliso Canyon leak from an underground natural gas storage well that lasted nearly four months, federal agencies with oversight of over such facilities announced workshops to gather information and solicit input on forthcoming minimum safety regulations. There are an estimated 400 interstate and intrastate underground natural gas storage facilities that operate… 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

Comment Period Extended 30 Days for PHMSA Gas Proposed Rule

Posted in Administrative Rulemaking, Integrity Management, Natural Gas, PHMSA, Recordkeeping, Reporting Obligations
PHMSA announced that it will extend the comment period on its proposed gas rule by only 30 days, with comments due on or before July 7, 2016.  Due to the scope and complexity of the proposal, numerous parties requested a 60 day extension of the comment period.  In granting the 30 day extension, PHMSA noted… 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

Expansive Proposed Rulemaking Issued by PHMSA for Natural Gas Pipelines

Posted in Administrative Rulemaking, Construction & Design, Integrity Management, Natural Gas, Operation & Maintenance, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act, Recordkeeping, Reporting Obligations
PHMSA has released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM or Notice) to substantially revise that Agency’s rules (at 49 CFR Part 192) for construction, operation and maintenance of natural gas pipeline systems. … 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