Saturday, June 11, 2011

OMB Approves PHMSA Rule on Pipeline Control Room Management

On Thursday the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved ‘consistent with change’ a final rule from the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) concerning control room management for natural gas and hazardous material pipelines. Actually there may be some confusion on whether this is a final rule or a proposed rule. The OMB announcement calls it a final rule while the Regulatory Agenda web page calls it a proposed rule.

The Regulatory Agenda says that this rule would change the compliance dates for the previous rule on control room management published in December 2009 (74 FR 63310). . This rule would expedite the program implementation deadline to August 1, 2011 (from August 1, 2012), for most of the requirements, except for certain provisions regarding adequate information and alarm management, which would have a program implementation deadline of August 1, 2012.

This rule was included in the Regulatory Agenda for the first time in the Fall 2010 Agenda. There it had a projected NPRM publication date of December 2010. That would have provided a pretty quick turn-around for the rule making process to have an effective date allowing for the August 1, 2011 deadline. I suspect that this ended up being a direct final rule. This would make the ‘consistent with change’ portion of the OMB announcement probably mean a change in the August 1, 2011 deadline to some time in September. The August 1, 2012 deadline would probably remain the same.

If that is the total extent of the changes required by OMB, then this rule could be published this week. Any more extensive changes would probably delay the publication for another week.

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