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Category Archives: Pipeline Safety Act

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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

Commerce Department Attempts to Clarify Executive Directive to Use U.S. Pipe

Posted in Construction & Design, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act, Policy
The Department of Commence published a request for comments related to implementation of the January 24, 2017 Executive Memorandum regarding "Construction of American Pipelines." The short Memorandum directs the Secretary of Commerce to “develop a plan under which all new pipelines, as well as retrofitted, repaired, or expanded pipelines, inside the borders of the United States, including portions of pipelines, use materials and equipment produced in the United States, to the maximum extent possible and to the extent permitted by law.” The Commerce Department is directed to submit its Plan to the President within 180 days, or by July 23, 2017. The Memorandum also notes that “produced in the United States” excludes manufacture of any components or any assembly done abroad, but provides no further clarification on applicability.… Continue Reading

New Executive Order Requires Agencies to Withdraw 2 Regulations for Every 1 Proposed

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Administrative Rulemaking, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act, Policy
President Trump signed another Executive Order (EO) on January 30, 2017, entitled Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs. The new EO, applicable to the entire Executive Branch, including all federal administrative agencies, makes a straightforward directive: “…for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination.” The Order goes on to state that the costs associated with any new regulations may not exceed the savings realized by repealing at least two prior regulations (“the total incremental cost of all new regulations…shall be no greater than zero.”).… Continue Reading

Regulatory Freeze issued by New Administration

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Administrative Rulemaking, Integrity Management, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act
On the first day of the new Trump Administration, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus issued a Memorandum to the heads of all Executive Departments and Agencies, requesting that all federal agencies suspend transmittal of any new proposed or final rules to the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) until the new Administration’s Agency appointees have… 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

Pipelines Subject to Higher Penalties under New PHMSA Civil Penalty Policy

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Enforcement, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act, Policy
On October 11, 2016, PHMSA released a Policy Statement notifying owners and operators of oil and gas pipelines that it is finally making its civil penalty framework publicly accessible, and that respondents may now request proposed civil penalty calculations in enforcement actions.… 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

Emergency Order Interim Regulations Released

Posted in Administrative Rulemaking, Enforcement, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act
Taking the first step to implement its new emergency order authority, PHMSA has issued an interim final rule which will be effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register. Final rules must be issued by March 19, 2017, but PHMSA will accept and consider comments filed within 60 days of publication. … 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

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