Public Awareness/ Community Relations

Last week, the US District Courts for the Eleventh and Sixth Circuits joined a growing chorus of other circuits holding that a Natural Gas Act (NGA) condemnor can obtain immediate, pre-trial possession of condemned land through a preliminary injunction (PI) remedy so long as it demonstrates its substantive power of eminent domain as a FERC certificate holder under NGA § 7(h).[1] The Sixth Circuit’s ruling also rejected arguments that export-related aspects of a domestic pipeline project somehow negated a pipeline company’s public interest showing, required for obtaining a PI granting immediate possession. In addition, the two rulings address several commonly-arising procedural issues in a manner favorable to pipeline companies seeking immediate possession in NGA condemnations.
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In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the devastating storm that recently swept through central Texas, both the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) are urging special precautions to minimize the impact of the storm on pipeline and other energy infrastructure in the state.
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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.
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PHMSA issued an updated advisory regarding the potential for damage to pipeline facilities caused by severe flooding. Presumably prompted by the January 2015 release to the Yellowstone river in Glendive, Montana, associated with an area of exposed pipeline on the river bottom, the Agency reiterated the nine (9) actions it has set forth in prior advisories to prevent and mitigate damage to pipelines impacted by flooding.
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PHMSA extended the comment period for its recent proposed expansion of information that operators must submit to the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS).  In response to an industry request for additional time, the Agency extended the comment period (which originally expired on September 29th) to December 1, 2014.

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PHMSA recently proposed to significantly expand the information collected from operators through the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS). In the Agency’s notice and request for comment, PHMSA proposes to collect extensive information regarding pipeline attributes and extends reporting requirements to newly abandoned pipelines, regulated breakout tanks, and offshore gas gathering lines.
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Almost four years after the Enbridge crude oil spill near Marshall, Michigan, PHMSA issued an Advisory Bulletin urging operators to evaluate their safety programs and implement changes to eliminate deficiencies identified by the NTSB’s investigation of the release.
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