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Pipeline Safety Update - Issue No. 134 - March 7, 2018

The President’s Proposed FY 2019 Budget Would Reduce PHMSA Funding

On February 12, the President released his proposed budget for FY 2019.  The proposal includes a total of $254.3 million for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), a decrease of $6.3 from FY 2018.  The proposed budget includes $150.2 million for pipeline safety programs, a decrease of $5.1 million, and a total of $52.1 million for hazardous materials programs, a decrease of $4.5 million.

Newly Revised PHMSA Rulemakings Update.  The tables below summarize the status of pipeline safety rulemakings pending before PHMSA, as reflected in the Department of Transportation’s recently posted January Significant Rulemaking Report and the Fall Unified Regulatory Agenda, released by the Office of Management & Budget’s (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).  The Unified Regulatory Agenda appears in two principal parts:  Current Agenda Agency Regulatory Entries for Active Actions and Current Long Term Actions

Under Executive Order (EO) 12866, OMB reviews proposed significant rules to ensure they are consistent with applicable law, the President’s priorities, and the principles set forth in the EO, and to ensure the proposals do not conflict with another agency’s policies or actions.  OMB also analyzes the cost-benefit analyses in support of the proposals.  The EO sets out deadlines for OMB evaluation, but review periods are often extended. 

Pending Final Rules

Proceeding

DOT Estimated Submission to OMB

DOT Estimated Publication

OIRA Estimated Publication 

Enhanced Emergency Order Procedures   Not Listed   Not Listed  January 2018 
Plastic Pipe Rule May 11, 2018 August 24, 2018  August 2018
Safety of Gas Transmission and Gathering Pipelines May 10, 2018 August 22, 2018 August 2018
Safety of Hazardous Liquid Pipelines May 4, 2018 August 17, 2018 April 2018
Underground Natural Gas Storage Facilities   Not Listed Not Listed January 2018

 

 

 

 

 

Pending Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) & Advanced Notices of Proposed Rulemakings (ANPRM)

Proceeding

DOT Estimated Submission to OMB

DOT Estimated Publication 

OIRA Estimated Publication 

ANPRM: Class Location Requirements   April 3, 2018 April 27, 2018 April 2018
NPRM: Standards Update Rule - 2015 and Beyond Not listed  Not listed  June 2018
NPRM: Valve Installation and Minimum Rupture Detection Standards  Not Listed Not Listed April 2018

 

 

 

OTHER PHMSA UPDATES

PHMSA seeks comments on renewal of information collection for records maintenance.  On February 12, PHMSA issued a notice and request for comments on the renewal of an information collection that requires owners and operators of gas pipelines to maintain records, make reports and provide information to the Secretary of Transportation at the Secretary’s request.  The existing information collection expires April 30, 2018.  Comments are due to PHMSA by April 13, 2018.

UPDATES FROM OTHER FEDERAL AGENCIES

The National Protection and Programs Directorate announces that the Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council will convene a Critical Infrastructure Summit.   On February 12, the National Protection and Programs Directorate published an announcement that the Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council (CIPAC) will convene a Critical Infrastructure Summit on March 1 and issued a request for public comments.  Topics to be addressed include Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure.  CIPAC’s Critical Infrastructure summit convenes Sector Coordinating Council members who own and operate critical infrastructure and representatives of a variety of governmental entities comprising the Government Coordinating Councils, among others.  Public comments are due February 27, 2018.

SELECT UPDATES FROM STATES

COLORADO

SB 18-167.  Introduced on February 12, this bill would establish an underground damage prevention safety commission as an independent agency within the state’s Department of Labor and Employment.  The bill would give the commission rulemaking and enforcement authority regarding excavation damage prevention and require the commission to execute a memorandum of understanding with the state’s notification association to facilitate implementation and administration of underground damage prevention laws.  The proposed legislation is intended to address the issues raised by PHMSA in its 2016 finding that Colorado’s enforcement of excavation damage prevention laws is inadequate.  The bill was referred to the Senate Transportation Committee.

On February 13, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) adopted comprehensive new regulations enhancing the design, installation, maintenance, testing, tracking and abandonment of flowlines and crude oil transfer lines.

KENTUCKY

SB 140. This bill was introduced on January 23 and would align state civil penalties for pipeline safety violations with federal levels; give the Kentucky Public Service Commission (KYPSC) statewide authority to enforce and assess civil penalties for violations of Kentucky’s Underground Facility Damage Prevention Act (Damage Prevention Act) resulting in damage to underground gas or hazardous liquid pipelines subject to the federal pipeline safety laws; require that the KYPSC issue administrative regulations governing enforcement proceedings under the Damage Prevention Act; and require that operators report excavation damage to an underground gas or hazardous liquid pipeline to the KYPSC within 30 days of being informed of the damage.  The bill is pending before the Senate Rules Committee

In November 2017, the KYPSC proposed to amend its pipeline safety regulations to eliminate redundancy with the federal regulations, including those governing reporting requirements and drug testing, and to incorporate the federal regulations in 49 C.F.R. Parts 191, 192, and 199 by reference.  The proposal also would impose more stringent requirements for the frequency of sampling to detect and verify the proper level of odorant.  Comments were filed in January.

NEW JERSEY

AR107.  Introduced February 8, the proposed resolution would affirm the importance of modernizing and replacing certain natural gas pipeline facilities in New Jersey.  The Resolution was referred to the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee. 

AB2614 and S679.  These bills would increase civil penalties for violations of pipeline safety requirements applicable to gas or hazardous liquid pipelines from $100,000 to $200,000 for each violation per day and would increase the maximum civil penalty to $2,000,000 for any related series of violations.  AB2614 has been referred to the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee; S679 has been referred to the Senate Economic Growth Committee. 

TENNESSEE

HB2273 and SB2512.  These bills would increase the maximum daily civil penalty for pipeline safety violations from $10,000 to $100,000 and would increase the maximum civil penalty for a continuing series of violations from $500,000 to $1 million.  HB2273 was introduced on February 7 and has been assigned to the Business and Utilities Committee.  SB2512 was introduced on February 1 and has been referred to the Senate Transportation and Safety Committee.

VERMONT

H.749.  This bill was introduced on January 30 and would amend and expand the scope of Vermont’s Underground Utility Damage Prevention System.  The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Technology.

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TRENDING LEGAL ANALYSIS


About this Author

Susan A. Olenchuk, Van Ness, Pipeline Safety Lawyer, Regulatory Matters Attorney
Partner

Susan Olenchuk represents clients on regulatory, safety, enforcement, and policy issues under the Pipeline Safety Laws, as well as under the Natural Gas Act (NGA), and the Natural Gas Policy Act (NGPA). She practices before the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and federal courts. 

Susan’s PHMSA practice covers compliance and strategic counseling, enforcement, litigation, audit preparation, and policy guidance.  She represents operators of gas and hazardous liquid...

202.298.1896
Bryn Karaus, Van Ness Feldman Law Firm, Pipeline Safety Attorney
Associate

As a member of the firm's pipeline safety practice, Bryn focuses on the regulation of pipelines and liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities and the transportation of hazardous materials, and helps operators develop, implement, and defend their safety programs. Her practice covers compliance and strategic counseling, enforcement, litigation, audit preparation, and policy.

Prior to joining Van Ness Feldman, Bryn was a Senior Attorney in the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), where she handled matters related to the federal safety standards for oil and gas pipelines and LNG facilities. Bryn represented the agency in pipeline safety enforcement cases, collaborating with engineers to develop and enforce notices of probable violation, corrective action orders, and safety orders. She worked with PHMSA inspectors and with other federal and state agencies on accident and incident investigations. She also handled the legal review of PHMSA’s LNG portfolio during the projects’ FERC application process.

202-298-1821
Barbara A. Deathe, Van Ness, Paralegal, Pipeline Matters Support Staff, Regulatory Arrangements,
Paralegal

Barbara Deathe has over 20 years of experience as a paralegal. She supports the firm’s lawyers and clients with pipeline safety and regulatory and transactional natural gas matters before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). In addition to monitoring various proceedings before the FERC and the U.S. Court of Appeals, she assists with the preparation of certificate applications, tariff filings, and other pleadings before the Commission and the preparation and filing of briefs and other pleadings in the U.S Court of Appeals. Barbara also conducts bluebook cite...

202.298.1804