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.
Continue Reading Proposed Expansion of NPMS Information Comment Period Extended

The Sierra Club recently filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), alleging that the Corps wrongfully withheld documents pertaining to its evaluation of the environmental impacts of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.  In March 2013, the Sierra Club requested preconstruction notifications (PCNs) submitted by TransCanada to the Corps, pursuant to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (5 U.S.C. § 552, et. seq.). The Corps denied the Sierra Club’s request on the basis that the PCNs, which contain detailed route information, were exempt from FOIA disclosure under the “inter-agency documents” exemption to FOIA (FOIA Exemption 5) (5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(5)).  The Sierra Club subsequently filed an appeal with the Corps asserting that the exemption does not apply to documents prepared by an outside party and submitted to an agency.  The Sierra Club’s current suit alleges violations of FOIA and the Administrative Procedure Act.
Continue Reading Environmental Groups Continue Judicial Challenges to Keystone XL

The most recent amendments to the Pipeline Safety Act became effective two years ago. Those amendments called for new studies and rulemaking, on issues ranging from verification of MAOP/MOP, potential changes to the identification of HCAs and/or Class Locations, new construction oversight, water crossing standards, and more.
Continue Reading Pipeline Law: The Year Ahead

PHMSA published an Information Collection Renewal Notice in June regarding the renewal of existing data that the Agency collects through the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS).
Continue Reading Comment Periods Extended on NPMS Information Collection and PHMSA Class Location Inquiry

In light of recent high profile pipeline incidents, PHMSA, among other federal agencies, is experiencing an unprecedented number of requests for disclosure of information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) at 5 U.S.C. 552, et seq.  These requests often come from Congress, citizen groups, or other administrative agencies such as the NTSB.  FOIA, referred to as the public “right to know” statute, provides that any person has the right to obtain access to federal agency records, except to the extent that portions of those records are protected from public disclosure by one of 9 exemptions.  Most federal agencies have their own FOIA regulations.  For example, the Department of Transportation includes the FOIA statutory exemptions at 49 C.F.R. Part 7.13 and provides that the Agency’s policy is to make records available to the public to the greatest extent possible, including “providing reasonably segregable information from documents that contain information that may be withheld.”
Continue Reading Increasing Requests for Disclosure of Documents Under FOIA

On April 10, 2013, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filed suit against PHMSA in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, alleging that the Agency has failed to produce records and documents in response to requests made by PEER under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  The group seeks copies of facility