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Pipeline Safety Update - Issue No. 150

Multiple Pipeline Safety Reauthorization Bills Propose Amending Pipeline Safety Laws

Funding authorization for the federal Pipeline Safety Laws expires September 30.  Multiple proposals to reauthorize funding and amend the Pipeline Safety Laws are under consideration, with additional bills expected.  Below is an overview of recent developments.

House Energy & Commerce Committee:  On June 19, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy convened a hearing regarding a discussion draft of the Safer Pipelines Act of 2019, which would authorize funding through 2023 and amend the Pipeline Safety Laws.  Witnesses included industry representatives and safety advocates.  On June 24, Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL) introduced a revised version of the bill, H.R. 3432, and on June 26 the Subcommittee convened a mark-up and approved the legislation by a voice vote.  Numerous amendments to the bill were offered and withdrawn with a commitment by the subcommittee to develop a bipartisan bill.  The full Committee is expected to mark up the bill before the August recess.

Other proposed legislation includes the Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act, submitted by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Leonel Rondon Pipeline Safety Act S.1097/H.R. 2139, introduced by Massachusetts Senators Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren and Massachusetts representative Lori Trahan. 

Proposed legislation is expected to be considered by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

The Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee Considers Proposed Gas Gathering Regulations

On June 25-26, the Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee (GPAC) met to consider the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend the federal safety regulations applicable to gas gathering pipelines.  Originally included as part of PHMSA’s NPRM issued in April 2016 to comprehensively revise regulations applicable to gas transmission and gathering pipelines, the gathering provisions are now being considered in a separate rulemaking. 

The GPAC approved recommendations to guide PHMSA’s development of pipeline safety requirements that will apply to gas gathering pipelines 8” or more in diameter in Class 1 Locations and operating at or above stress levels of 20% of specified minimum yield strength (SMYS).  The GPAC also approved recommendations that PHMSA withdraw a proposal to redefine the beginning and ending points of gathering and apply Part 191 reporting requirements to unregulated gathering.  Presentation materials and other information related to the meeting are available here.   

Revised PHMSA Rulemakings Update.  The chart below shows the status of PHMSA’ pending pipeline safety rulemaking initiatives as reflected in DOT’s June Significant Rulemaking Report, PHMSA’s status Chart of legislatively mandated actions, and the Office of Management & Budget’s (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) Spring 2019 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions.  The Unified Agenda appears in two principal parts, Current Agenda Agency Regulatory Entries for Active Actions and Current Long Term Actions.  Revised information appears in bold.

PHMSA has announced that the Gas Transmission Final Rule (Safety of Gas Transmission Pipelines MAOP Reconfirmation, Expansion of Assessment Requirements and Other Related Amendments) and Valve Installation and Minimum Rupture Detection Standards NPRM have been transmitted to OMB.  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 Publication

OIRA Estimated Publication

PHMSA’s Chart

Emergency Order Procedures

August 1, 2019

May 2019

April 22, 2019

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

August 30, 2019

July 2019

July 2, 2019

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

December 20, 2019

December 2019

Not Listed

Safety of Gas Gathering Pipelines

June 26, 2020

December 2019

Not Listed

Safety of Onshore Hazardous Liquid Pipelines

June 28, 2019

December 2018

June 18, 2019

Underground Natural Gas Storage Facilities

September 30, 2019

July 2019

July 2, 2019

Pending Notices of Proposed Rulemakings

Proceeding

DOT Estimated Publication

OIRA Estimated Publication

PHMSA’s Chart

Amendments to LNG Facilities

 September 2, 2019 October 2019  Not Listed 

Class Location Requirements

November 15, 2019

November 2019

Not Listed

Gas Pipeline Regulatory Reform

September 30, 2019

August 2019

Not Listed

LNG by Rail

July 29, 2019  Not Listed  Not Listed 

Liquid Pipeline Regulatory Reform

Not Listed

June 2019

Not Listed

Periodic Standards Update

Not Listed

April 2020

Not Listed

Repair Criteria for Hazardous Liquid Pipelines

June 26, 2020

Next Action Undetermined

Not Listed

Valve Installation and Minimum Rupture Detection Standards

September 27, 2019

August 2019

August 7, 2019

Pending Advance Notices of Proposed Rulemakings

Proceeding

DOT Estimated Publication

OIRA Estimated Publication

PHMSA’s Chart

Coastal Ecological Unusually Sensitive Areas

Not Listed

April 2020

Not Specified

Other PHMSA Updates

PHMSA convenes public meeting on public awareness and amending the definition of USA.  On June 12-13, PHMSA convened a public meeting to address (1) amending the definition of Unusually Sensitive Areas (USA) for the Great Lakes, coastal beaches, and marine coastal waters areas and (2) public awareness and engagement.  Proximity to a USA is one method of determining if a hazardous liquid pipeline could affect an HCA, making the pipeline subject to PHMSA’s integrity management regulations.  Section 19 of the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016 required PHMSA to amend the definition of USA to include the Great Lakes, coastal beaches, and marine coastal waters.  To address this mandate, PHMSA must define, identify data sources, and maintain a map of these areas in the National Pipeline Mapping System.  With respect to public awareness, PHMSA sought input on the most effective methods to inform all stakeholders on shared responsibilities with respect to pipeline safety. 

© 2019 Van Ness Feldman LLP

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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
Marco Bracamonte, Van Ness Feldman Law Firm, Washington DC, Paralegal
Paralegal

With over 15 years of experience, Marco Bracamonte supports the firm’s attorneys and clients with natural gas regulatory and transactional matters before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. He also assists with special litigation contract issues.  In addition to researching and reporting on various proceedings before the Commission, Marco is experienced in retrieving criminal records and making filings at the D.C. Superior Court.

Marco has completed courses of cite checking and legal research conducted by the National Capital Area...

202-298-1924