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Category Archives: Policy

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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

Pipelines and Infrastructure Projects are Front and Center in Administration’s First Days

Posted in Construction & Design, Environmental, Policy
In his first days as President, Donald Trump has issued several directives to expedite pipeline and energy infrastructure projects and bring pipe steel manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. Through an executive order, the President directed federal agencies to expedite environmental reviews and approvals for all infrastructure projects, with emphasis on “high priority” projects such as pipelines.… Continue Reading

Activists Attempt to Shut Down Five Major Oil Pipelines

Posted in Construction & Design, Environmental, Infrastructure Security, Policy
A group referring to itself as “Climate Direct Action” claimed to have shut down five major cross-border oil pipelines in various states on Tuesday October 11, 2016: Minnesota (Enbridge Lines 4 and 67 near Leonard), Montana (Spectra Energy’s Express Pipeline near Coal Banks Landing), North Dakota (TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline near Walhalla) and Washington State (Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline near Anacortes).… 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

Standing Rock Dispute Presents Issues Unique to Indian Country

Posted in Environmental, Judicial/ Administrative Decisions, Policy, Public Awareness/ Community Relations
Since the Administration denied a Presidential (border crossing) Permit to the Keystone XL Project in 2015, a number of regional, state or local objections to new pipeline construction projects have emerged around the U.S. Most of the protests have continued themes relied on by opposition to Keystone, including the claim that fossil fuels should remain in the ground in order to limit the impacts of climate change.… 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

Advisory Bulletin Warns About Corrosion Under Insulation

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Integrity Management, Operation & Maintenance, PHMSA, Policy
A recent PHMSA Advisory Bulletin warns the pipeline industry about Corrosion Under Insulation (CUI), which is frequently used on pipe transporting heavy crude oil.  Such products are often heated for more efficient transport, thus the pipe is wrapped with foam insulation over the coating, and then further covered with a tape wrap over the insulation.  The… 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

Congress Continues Pipeline Safety Reauthorization Hearings and Considers Draft Legislation

Posted in PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act, Policy
The U.S. House of Representatives convened a Hearing last week regarding reauthorization of the Pipeline Safety Act (PSA) and is now considering draft legislation.  In light of the recent methane leak in Aliso Canyon, California, House Subcommittee members echoed support for many of the provisions in the Senate reauthorization bill, S 2276, including federal safety… 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

Challenging Presidential Permitting Authority

Posted in Environmental, Judicial/ Administrative Decisions, Policy
The question of whether Presidential Permit authority is constitutional and/or subject to judicial review has been and continues to be an unsettled issue.  A little more than a month after the State Department’s November 2015 denial of TransCanada’s application for a Presidential Permit to construct its Keystone XL pipeline project, the United States District Court… Continue Reading

BLM Proposes Sweeping Rules to Curb Methane Emissions

Posted in Administrative Rulemaking, Environmental, Natural Gas, Policy
Consistent with President Obama’s “Climate Action Plan,” the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently released proposed rules intended to significantly curb emissions from new and existing oil and gas production wells on federal and tribal lands. In total, BLM proposes to cut natural gas emissions (from both intentional and unintentional releases) associated with oil and gas… 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

Draft Revisions to FERC Environmental Report Manual Available for Comment

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Construction & Design, Environmental, Policy
FERC recently published a revised draft Guidance Manual for Environmental Report Preparation for review and public comment. The revised Guidance Manual updates FERC’s 2002 guidance manual on environmental report preparation for projects seeking FERC authorization under the Natural Gas Act (NGA), supplementing the previous guidance as well as adding new sections explaining requirements for environmental report preparation. … Continue Reading

Emergency Approval Issued by DOT

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Administrative Rulemaking, Incident Response, Policy
At an emergency press conference held today by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx announced that DOT has issued a one-time approval for special operating authority to engage in air transportation to specified markets.  The approval will be limited in duration, valid only from the evening of December 24… Continue Reading