Attorney Keith Coyle provides an update on the latest progress in the PHMSA rulemaking process for the Gas Gathering Rule.
In this episode, you will learn about the importance of how gathering lines are defined, the impact of the recently-updated API RP 80 that provides additional guidance on how to define gathering lines, what type of gathering lines need to comply with the PHMSA safety requirements in 49 CFR 192, how the transition to a new administration will impact the timing of the rulemaking being finalized, and more topics. To listen to this podcast, click here.
On a recent episode of Pipeliners Podcast, attorney Keith Coyle discusses insights on PHMSA rulemaking and how pipeline policy was affected by the previous four years, and how it might be affected in the next four years. To listen to this podcast, click here.
On February 12, 2020, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA or Agency) released a final rule establishing new safety standards and reporting requirements for underground natural gas storage (UNGS) facilities (the Final Rule). The Final Rule modifies regulations that PHMSA previously established in an interim final rule (IFR) to address a congressional mandate in the Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016 (PIPES Act).
The Final Rule follows the approach taken in the IFR by incorporating the provisions in two industry safety standards for UNGS facilities by reference but eliminates the requirement to treat the permissive elements of those standards as mandatory. The Final Rule also makes other changes to the IFR, many of which respond to issues raised in public comments, a petition for reconsideration filed by several industry trade organizations, and a petition for judicial review filed by the State of Texas in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. Additional information about the Final Rule, which takes effect on March 13, 2020, is provided below.
Please read more about this Final Rule in this Alert.
On October 1, 2019, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA or the Agency) published a final rule in the Federal Register amending the federal safety standards for gas pipeline facilities at 49 C.F.R. Part 192 (Rule). The Rule primarily addresses concerns identified in congressional mandates and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations for gas transmission lines. The most significant provisions include new requirements for verifying pipeline materials, reconfirming maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP), and performing periodic assessments of pipeline segments located outside of high consequence areas (HCAs), including in newly-defined moderate consequence areas (MCAs). Other changes include amendments to the integrity management (IM) requirements, new requirements for reporting MAOP exceedances and the safety of inline inspection launcher and receivers, as well as related recordkeeping requirements.
This alert is the first in a four-part Babst Calland series on the Rule. This first alert discusses the new MAOP reconfirmation and material verification requirements. The next alert will cover MCAs and new assessment requirements for pipelines located outside of HCAs. The third client alert will review the new recordkeeping requirements. Finally, Babst Calland will survey the remaining Rule topics.
Please read more about this Final Rule in this Alert.
On October 1, 2019, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a final rule in the Federal Register amending the federal safety standards for hazardous liquids pipelines at 49 C.F.R. Part 195 (84 Fed. Reg. 52260) (Rule). The publication of the Rule ends a nearly decade-long rulemaking process that began in the wake of a significant pipeline accident in Marshall, Michigan. A prior version of the Rule, released in the closing days of the Obama administration, was returned to PHMSA for further review pursuant to a White House memorandum issued at the start of the Trump administration. This version of the Rule reflects changes that PHMSA made after receiving input from the current administration, the most significant of which is the removal of new requirements for performing pipeline repairs. The effective date of the Rule is July 1, 2020. Please read more about this Final Rule in this Alert.
On October 1, 2019, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA or the Agency) published a Final Rule in the Federal Register updating its procedural requirements for issuing emergency orders (EO). In 2016, PHMSA issued temporary regulations for issuing emergency orders in an interim final rule (IFR). Unlike the process that ordinarily applies to PHMSA rulemakings under the Pipeline Safety and Administrative Procedure Acts, the Agency issued the temporary EO requirements without providing the public with prior notice or the opportunity to submit comments. The final rule takes effect on December 2, 2019, and includes changes that the Agency deemed necessary based on comments submitted after the IFR. Please read more about this Final Rule in this Alert.
On June 3, 2019, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) sent a legislative proposal to Congress for reauthorization of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) pipeline safety program. If enacted and signed into law, the legislation would reauthorize PHMSA’s pipeline safety program for an additional four years, or through 2023.
As in previous reauthorizations, the bill includes provisions that respond to recent events—in this case, the September 13, 2018 natural gas distribution incident in Merrimack Valley, Massachusetts. Consistent with the Trump administration’s broader policy agenda, the bill also includes provisions to promote innovation by supporting new technologies and enhancing pipeline safety and reliability.
The legislation addresses other areas of concern to the pipeline industry, such as requiring more timely review of technical standards and imposing additional criminal sanctions for pipeline vandalism. Finally, the bill includes rulemaking mandates that focus on items of importance to PHMSA—namely, expanding the operator qualification (OQ) program to pipeline construction and establishing regulations for inactive pipelines.
Please read more about this decision in this Alert.
Howard R. Elliott was officially sworn in on October 30 as the new administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Administrator Elliott, who spent four decades in the freight rail industry and received a lifetime achievement award from the Association of American Railroads for hazardous materials transportation safety, is well positioned to lead the federal agency that administers the nation’s hazardous materials transportation safety program. However, his tenure is likely to be defined, at least in the near term, by how he handles two significant pipeline safety rulemaking proceedings that PHMSA initiated during the previous administration. Click here to read this article from the November issue of The PIOGA Press.
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On March 23, 2017, OMB concluded its review of PHMSA’s proposed expansion of the data collected under the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS). OMB elected to reapprove the current information collection supporting NPMS and not the revisions proposed by PHMSA.
In July 2014, PHMSA first issued a identifying 32 attributes the agency intended to collect from transmission operators in NPMS. PHMSA also included a positional accuracy requirement proposing that operators submit the centerline location of each transmission pipeline with an accuracy level of +/- five feet. In August 2015, PHMSA released a revised information collection proposal and scheduled a public workshop. In June 2016, PHMSA released a <third revision reducing the number of requested attributes and settling on a positional accuracy requirement of +/- 50 feet for natural gas transmission operators in populated areas (Class 2, 3, 4, an HCA, identified site, or where there is one or more buildings intended for human occupancy) and +/- 100 feet for all other gas pipeline segments. Operators of hazardous liquid pipelines would need to comply with the +/- 50 feet requirement for all pipelines. Since PHMSA is proposing to make these changes through an information collection request (ICR), the agency sent the revised proposal to OMB for approval on June 22, 2016. On March 23, 2017, OMB issued its decision to reapprove the previous ICR and not the revisions requested by PHMSA. Operators will need to continue to comply with the current NPMS requirements.
Please contact Brianne Kurdock at (202) 853-3462 or email@example.com, James Curry at (202) 853-3461 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Keith Coyle at (202) 853-3460 or email@example.com for more information.
In a recent op-ed published in the Post-Gazette, “Gas Pipelines Represent Prosperity” (Sept. 5 Perspectives), David Spigelmyer and James Kunz of the Marcellus Shale Coalition described the many benefits Read more ›
On October 14, the Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published its Interim Final Rule (IFR) entitled “Pipeline Safety: Enhanced Emergency Order Procedures” in the Federal Register. The agency had previously issued a pre-publication version of this rule on October 4. See Babst Calland’s Pipeline Safety Alert. PHMSA will use these new regulations to implement its emergency order authority conferred by Congress in the “Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016” (PIPES Act). PHMSA may issue an emergency order to address an unsafe condition or practice, or a combination of unsafe conditions or practices that pose an imminent hazard to public health and safety or the environment. The IFR contains administrative procedures that PHMSA must follow in determining if an imminent hazard exists, the factors that must be considered before PHMSA issues an emergency order, and the content of those orders, including a description of the persons subject to the restrictions, prohibitions, or safety measures and the standards and procedures for obtaining relief. The IFR also creates a process for administrative review of an emergency order that is largely patterned on the statutory text in 49 U.S.C. § 60117(o), including the referenced procedural rules for HazMat emergency orders in 49 C.F.R. § 109.19.
PHMSA may use this authority starting today, October 14. Interested parties may file comments on this final rule until December 13, 2016.
On October 14, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published its Final Rule entitled “Expanding the Use of Excess Flow Valves in Gas Distribution Systems to Applications Other Than Single-Family Residences” (EFV Final Rule) in the Federal Register. The agency had previously issued a pre-publication version of this rule on October 7. See Babst Calland’s Pipeline Safety Alert. In response to statutory changes and a National Transportation Safety Board recommendation, PHMSA is expanding the existing requirement that operators install an excess flow valve (EFV) on certain natural gas distribution pipelines to include additional types of new or replaced service lines. The agency is also requiring curb valves or other manual shut-off valves on new or replaced service lines with meter capacities above 1,000 standard cubic feet per hour and requiring operators to notify customers of their right to request the installation of an EFV on certain types of service lines. The EFV Final Rule will become effective on April 14, 2017.
Today, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published an Advisory Bulletin entitled “Clarification of Terms Relating to Pipeline Operational Status.” Section 23 of the PIPES Act required PHMSA to issue an ADB within 90 days of enactment summarizing the procedures for changing the status of a pipeline facility from “active” to “abandoned”. Historically, PHMSA has stated that it does not recognize “idle” status for pipelines (only active or abandoned). PHMSA’s ADB introduces the concept of “purged but active” status, arguably a new category for operational status. The ADB states that PHMSA is considering a future rulemaking requiring operators to notify the agency of “purged but active” pipelines, but that in the meantime “owners or operators planning to defer certain activities for purged pipelines should coordinate the deferral in advance with regulators.” PHMSA’s guidance on integrity management currently allows deferral of certain inspection activities for out-of-service pipe.
On July 13, 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) released an advance copy of a rulemaking proposal that would amend the oil spill response plan requirements in 49 C.F.R. Part 130 and establish new information sharing requirements for high-hazard flammable trains in 49 C.F.R. Part 174. The proposal would also incorporate by reference a new test method for determining the initial boiling point of crude oil and other flammable liquids to ensure consistency with the American National Standards Institute/American Petroleum Institute Recommend Practice 3000, “Classifying and Loading of Crude Oil into Rail Tank Cars,” First Edition, September 2014. PHMSA is providing a 60-day period for submitting comments on the proposal, which runs from the date of its publication in the Federal Register.
On June 30, 2016, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued an interim final rule, effective August 1, 2016, titled “Pipeline Safety: Inflation Adjustment of Maximum Civil Penalties.” This interim rule increases the maximum administrative civil penalties that may be issued for a violation of the pipeline safety laws and regulations from $200,000.00 per violation per day up to $205,638.00, and from $2 million for a related series of violations up to $2,056,380.00. The interim rule also increases the maximum for the additional civil penalties applicable to violations of PHMSA’s LNG regulations from $50,000.00 to $75,123.00 and increases the maximums for violations of the pipeline safety whistle blower protection laws from $1,000.00 to $1,194.00. PHMSA issued the rule pursuant to the “Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015” and used a multiplier of 1.02819 pursuant to guidance provided by the Office of Management and Budget in order to calculate the increase.