Pipeline & HazMat Safety
Led by three former U.S. Department of Transportation attorneys with nearly 40 years of combined experience, the Pipeline & HazMat Safety Group represents clients nationwide on a wide variety of energy and transportation safety matters.
Whether its solving a difficult regulatory or operational challenge, providing strategic leadership on a policy opportunity, or guiding a client through a dispute with the government, we find creative solutions to tough problems. Our advice is informed by cross-cutting perspectives on managing safety and compliance risks, deep knowledge of safety regulatory frameworks for energy infrastructure and transportation, and an understanding of our clients’ businesses. Our clients are stakeholders across the energy industry, including pipelines, utilities, energy producers, LNG terminals, underground natural gas storage facilities, chemical companies, investors, trade associations, hydrogen infrastructure developers and technology companies. Our attorneys represent and are active in several trade organizations and are frequently called to speak at energy conferences.
- Day-to-day regulatory and strategic counseling on all aspects of pipeline safety and HazMat regulation for dozens of industry stakeholders.
- Internal compliance audits and proactive counseling for energy stakeholders developing, auditing or refining their compliance programs, and seeking improved safety performance and reduced compliance risk.
- PHMSA and environmental regulatory due diligence for transactions. We have worked on numerous transactions in recent years.
- Comprehensive jurisdictional analyses (PHMSA, EPA, OSHA, USCG and state regulation) of pipeline systems, terminals, refineries and other facilities across the United States. We have performed dozens of these analyses in recent years.
- Advising technology companies and other stakeholders on hydrogen and natural gas powered vehicles, fuel systems and transport safety issues, and associated NHTSA, FMCSA and PHMSA regulatory strategy and federal approvals.
- Provided regulatory and strategic advice to developer of proposed carbon capture and sequestration project, including associated CO2 pipeline.
- Advised pipeline operators and HazMat shippers responding to NTSB accident investigations.
- Advised interstate gas transmission operators on FERC cost-recovery issues related to PHMSA rule and policy changes.
- Worked with PHMSA and FERC to obtain approval of alternative testing protocols for multi-billion dollar LNG export projects.
- Served as expert witness in an arbitration proceeding involving a $20 million breach of warranty claim for pipeline safety compliance issues.
- Advised developers and operators of renewable natural gas (agricultural and landfill) systems on regulatory strategy and compliance issues.
- Advising clients seeking PHMSA special permits and regulatory interpretations and state waivers to allow the use of new technologies.
Enforcement and Appeals
- Representing multiple pipeline operators in PHMSA and state enforcement proceedings throughout the United States. Obtained several complete and partial withdrawals of alleged PHMSA violations, proposed compliance orders and civil penalties on the merits, and through settlement agreements on favorable terms.
- Represented pipeline operator in a D.C. Circuit petition for review of a PHMSA jurisdictional classification of liquid and gas pipelines, and in related administrative proceedings before PHMSA. Obtained favorable global settlement of all proceedings.
- Advised national pipeline trade association in a D.C. Circuit challenge to a PHMSA rule on the design and testing of pressure vessels, resulting in a stay of enforcement.
- Advised natural gas liquids fractionator in multiple PHMSA enforcement cases and related D.C. Circuit petition for review.
- Worked with PHMSA, EPA and DOJ in a civil enforcement action related to oil pipeline spills in Alaska (while in prior government service).
- Worked with PHMSA and DOJ to defend litigation challenging PHMSA’s oversight of state pipeline safety programs (while in prior government service).
Rulemaking and Legislative
- Working with pipeline operators and trade associations to prepare legal strategies and comments in current DOT, PHMSA and state rulemaking, guidance and other proceedings.
- Extensive work to support stakeholders on all aspects of PHMSA’s proposed “Mega Rule” for natural gas transmission pipelines.
- Working with operators and trade associations in Pipeline Safety Act Reauthorization efforts.
- Worked with industry stakeholders to develop state and federal legislation on the regulation and siting of liquefied natural gas LNG facilities.
- Counseling pipeline operators responding to GAO audit and investigation inquiries.
- Advising oil and gas producers, truck and rail terminal facilities, industrial packaging business, and hydrogen fuel infrastructure developer on day-to-day interpretive matters under the hazardous materials safety laws and regulations, including the DOT security plan requirements.
- Counseled startups and container manufacturer on PHMSA HazMat special permits.
- Advised multiple clients on PHMSA and FRA HazMat safety enforcement matters, including notices of probable violation, subpoenas and inspections.
- Prepared comments for industry stakeholder in PHMSA DOT-117 rail tank car rulemaking, and advised numerous shippers on regulatory and commercial issues related to implementation of the new requirements.
– James Curry