Pennsylvania House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Hearing
In his testimony on August 17, 2021 at the Pennsylvania House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee public hearing on the Environmental and Economic Benefit of Pipelines, Babst Calland Attorney Keith Coyle, chairman of the Marcellus Shale Coalition’s Pipeline Safety Workgroup, explains, “As long as we are relying on fossil fuels to produce power, we need pipelines to deliver them safely. …It’s pretty clear we are going to be relying on natural gas and petroleum for some time. There is no other way to do this safely and to move product in bulk besides these pipelines.”
To view the video of the full public hearing of the House Environmental Resources & Energy Committee on the Environmental and Economic Benefits of Pipelines, click here.
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 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.
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 25, the FAA released a statement notifying potential applicants seeking a waiver from the small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) rules of common errors in the application process. In the two months since FAA started issuing waivers from the Part 107 rules, the agency has issued over 81 authorizations for flights in Class D and E airspace and 36 waivers of Part 107 requirements. However, the agency has also denied many waiver applications on account of incorrect or incomplete information. The agency has denied 71 waiver requests and 854 airspace applications. UAS operators that are seeking a waiver should ensure that they include a detailed description of how they intend to meet the performance based standards issued by FAA. See previous Babst Calland Pipeline Safety Alert. For example, applicants seeking a waiver of the nighttime operation restriction must provide the methods for which the remote pilot will maintain visual line of sight during darkness; see and avoid other aircraft, people, and ground-based structures during nighttime operations; continuously determine the position of the UAS, and increase the visibility of the UAS at a distance of 3 statute miles unless a system is in place to avoid all non-participating aircraft. Applicants must also respond promptly to any requests from the FAA for additional information. If the FAA does not receive a response after 30 days, the agency will deny the waiver request.
The FAA also created the Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team (UAST), a group of industry and government stakeholders. The UAST team is charged with analyzing data to enhance safety with drone operations. The UAST held its first meeting in mid-October.
Babst Calland is assisting energy industry clients with rule implementation and strategy involving the use of small UAS. 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.
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.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently issued Performance-Based Standards highlighting information that an applicant must include in order to seek a waiver of Part 107, the rules that apply to the operation of a small unmanned aircraft system. The FAA previously released the form and instructions on how to apply for a waiver from certain requirements (See previous Babst Calland pipeline safety alerts for more information on the Small UAS Final Rule and the waiver process.). Babst Calland’s Pipeline and HazMat Safety team has prepared a Pipeline Safety Alert noting observations on the Performance-Based Standards as they pertain to the line-of-sight requirement (14 C.F.R. § 107.31).
On August 29, 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released the form and instructions on how to apply for a waiver from certain requirements included in the “Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems” Final Rule. This final rule went into effect on August 29, 2016, and permits the use, with certain limitations, of small unmanned aircraft systems (small drones) for non-hobby and non-recreational purposes. Babst Calland’s Pipeline and HazMat Safety team has prepared a Pipeline Safety Alert providing additional details on the application process.
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.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently issued regulations permitting the use, with certain limitations, of small unmanned aircraft systems (small drones) for non-hobby and non-recreational purposes. On July 13, 2016, Congress passed several provisions specific to drone use by the energy industry as part of the reauthorization bill for the FAA. Babst Calland’s Pipeline and HazMat Safety team has prepared a Pipeline Safety Alert noting observations on some of the key provisions in the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016.
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.
On June 22, 2016, the President signed into law the PIPES Act, reauthorizing the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) federal pipeline safety program through fiscal year 2019. Among several amendments to the Pipeline Safety Laws, the PIPES Act provides PHMSA with significant new authority to issue industry-wide emergency orders and requires PHMSA to develop underground gas storage standards. Babst Calland’s Pipeline and HazMat Safety team has prepared a Pipeline Safety Alert offering observations on some of the key provisions in the PIPES Act.