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Federal Pipeline Safety Regulator Proposes to Update Industry Standards Incorporated by Reference

On August 16, 2013, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register that contained a package of periodic updates to the voluntary consensus standards that are incorporated into the federal pipeline safety regulations by reference, as well as several non-substantive, miscellaneous amendments.  As PHMSA explained in the NPRM, the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (Publ. L. 104-113) requires federal agencies to adopt voluntary consensus standards by regulation where appropriate, and there are 64 such standards incorporated by reference into the federal pipeline safety regulations.  PHMSA also explained that a congressional mandate in the recent reauthorization of the federal pipeline safety laws requires the agency to make these industry standards available to the public, free of charge, on the Internet.  Among the noteworthy changes in the NPRM is a proposal to incorporate the first edition of API Recommended Practice 5LT, “Recommended Practice for Truck Transportation of Line Pipe,” into the federal pipeline safety regulations.  A variety of other applicable industry standards would also be updated, including those that apply to the transportation of line pipe by rail, barge, marine vessel; the specifications for line pipe, pipeline valves, and storage tanks; and the methodology for conducting pipeline external corrosion direct assessments.  PHMSA is also proposing to clarify the text of three regulations by making non-substantive changes.