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Pipeline Safety Update - Issue No. 138

Spring 2018 Unified Regulatory Agenda Updates Status of PHMSA Rulemakings and Reflects New Regulatory Initiatives

The Office of Management & Budget’s (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) released its Spring 2018 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions.  The tables below summarize the status of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) pending pipeline safety rulemaking initiatives.  New and revised information appears in bold.  The Department of Transportation (DOT) has referred to the Unified Agenda in lieu of releasing a Significant Rulemaking Report for May. 

Noteworthy new regulatory initiatives include: 

Gas Pipeline Regulatory Reform and Liquid Pipeline Reform:  These separate rulemakings would amend existing regulations to “ease regulatory burdens on the construction and operation” of gas transmission, gas gathering, and hazardous liquid pipeline systems.  The anticipated measures would include those identified through internal agency review, existing petitions for rulemaking, and public comments received on DOT’s recent notices addressing regulatory reform and impediments to transportation infrastructure projects.  According to OIRA, notices of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) are expected in February 2019.

Coastal Ecological Unusually Sensitive Areas:  PHMSA plans to issue an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) addressing the definition of an unusually sensitive area (USA) to explicitly include the Great Lakes, coastal beaches, and marine coastal waters as USA ecological resources for determining whether a pipeline is in a high consequence area under the hazardous liquid pipeline integrity management regulations.  PHMSA will solicit broad input from pipelines and other stakeholders regarding the definitions and geographic extents of the terms “coastal beaches” and “marine coastal waters.”  PHMSA previously held a public meeting to address applicable definitions and available geospatial information system (GIS) data sources for these areas.  This rulemaking is required by section 19 of the Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016.  According to OIRA, an ANPRM is expected in November 2018.

Pending Final Rules

Proceeding

DOT Estimated Submission to OMB

DOT Estimated Publication

OIRA Estimated Publication 

Enhanced Emergency Order Procedures 

 Not Listed

 Not Listed

August 2018

Plastic Pipe Rule

May 16, 2018

August 28, 2018

August 2018

Safety of Gas Transmission Pipelines, MAOP Reconfirmation, Expansion of Assessment Requirements and Other Related Amendments 

December 4, 2018

March 14, 2019

March 2019

Safety of Gas Transmission Pipelines, Repair Criteria, Integrity Management Improvements, Cathodic Protection, Management of Change, and Other Related Amendments 

 March 4, 2019

June 12, 2019

Not Listed 

Safety of Gas Gathering Pipelines 

 May 2, 2019

August 14, 2019

Not Listed

Safety of Hazardous Liquid Pipelines

June 8, 2018

September 19, 2018

September 2018

Underground Natural Gas Storage Facilities 

 Not Listed

September 26, 2018

September 2018

Pending Notices of Proposed Rulemakings

Proceeding

DOT Estimated Submission to OMB

DOT Estimated Publication 

OIRA Estimated Publication 

Gas Pipeline Regulatory Reform

Not Listed

Not Listed

February 2019

Liquid Pipeline Regulatory Reform 

Not Listed

Not Listed

February 2019 

Standards Update Rule - 2015 and Beyond

Not listed

Not listed

June 2018

Valve Installation and Minimum Rupture Detection Standards

 Not Listed

November 2, 2018

November 2018

Pending Advanced Notices of Proposed Rulemakings

Proceeding

DOT Estimated Submission to OMB

DOT Estimated Publication 

OIRA Estimated Publication 

ANPRM: Class Location Requirements 

 May 8, 2018

June 1, 2018

June 2018

Coastal Ecological Unusually Sensitive Areas

 Not Listed

Not Listed

November 2018

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.

OTHER PHMSA UPDATES

Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee will meet September 6-7 to discuss proposed rule affecting gas gathering pipelinesPHMSA has indicated that the Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee (GPAC) will meet on September 6-7 to discuss the NPRM addressing the Safety of Gas Gathering Lines.  In March, PHMSA announced that it was dividing the Gas Transmission and Gathering proposed rule into three separate final rules, one of which will address new regulations applicable to gas gathering pipelines.  The Committee is expected to address reporting requirements, safety regulations for Class 1 gathering lines, and definitions related to gas gathering.

PHMSA requests comments on renewal of information collection requests. On May 17, PHMSA issued a notice extending the comment period for two recent information collection requests that were previously issued on March 6 and that expire on May 31.  The first information collection involves the requirement that operators who do not operate buried gas lines located downstream of a customer’s service line send written notices to customers describing the proper maintenance of such lines and the potential hazards of not properly maintaining them.  Operators are required to maintain a copy of the notice currently in use and evidence that notices were sent to customers within the previous three years.  The second information collection relates to the requirement that operators develop and implement written continuing public education programs and submit them to either PHMSA or a State Authority.  Comments are due June 18.

UPDATES FROM OTHER FEDERAL AGENCIES

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics announces proposed new data collection relating to oil and gas industry safety information.  On May 7, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) issued a notice and request for comments announcing a proposed new information collection under which BTS will collect safety and risk management data from the oil and gas industry to assist BTS in administering the Oil and Gas Industry Safety Data Program.  The Oil and Gas Industry Safety Data Program is a component of the SafeOCS program developed and implemented in 2013 with the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) for the confidential reporting of near misses occurring on the Outer Continental Shelf.  Under the proposed information collection, BTS would collect voluntarily reported data under a pledge of confidentiality for statistical purposes only.  Comments are due July 6.

SELECT UPDATES FROM STATES

COLORADO

Introduced April 23, HB 1419, the Preventing Explosions, Nondisclosures, and Toxic Releases Act, would require the Colorado Oil and Gas Conversation Commission to promulgate rules to ensure proper wellhead integrity of all oil and gas production wells and to address their permitting, construction and closure.  Each oil and gas operator would be required to provide electronic notice of the location of each flow line and gathering pipeline installed, owned or operated to the Commission and each local government within whose jurisdiction the subsurface facility is located.  The bill passed the Colorado House of Representatives on May 1. On May 2, the Senate Committee on State, Veterans, & Military Affairs recommended to postpone the bill indefinitely.

DELAWARE

Introduced on April 30, SB 189 would amend the Delaware Underground Utility and Safety Act to require notification of excavation damage to the Delaware Public Service Commission and the Attorney General within 15 working days for potential enforcement proceedings.  The bill provides that either the Attorney General or the Public Service Commission may enforce penalties appropriate for the circumstances and gravity of the violation.  The bill has been referred to the Senate Environmental, Natural Resources & Energy Committee.

MASSACHUSETTS

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities is seeking additional comments regarding proposed revisions to its proposed regulations that would adopt uniform natural gas leak classification requirements.  Specifically, the Department is requesting additional comments on the estimated costs for each local distribution company to implement the leak‐extent and barhole methods for identifying non-hazardous, environmentally significant leaks.  Comments are due May 18, and reply comments are due May 25.

WASHINGTON

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission has proposed adopting by reference the versions of 49 C.F.R. Parts 191, 192, 193, 195, 198, and 199 that were in effect on January 23, 2017, except for the sections identifying the scope of those regulations.  The rule has been proposed under an expedited process.  Objections must be received in writing by June 18.

© 2018 Van Ness Feldman LLP

TRENDING LEGAL ANALYSIS


About this Author

Susan A. Olenchuk, Van Ness Feldman Law Firm, Washington DC, Energy and Litigation Law 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