Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pipeline Safety Advisory Committees Teleconference – 12-17-13

The Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a meeting notice in today’ Federal Register (78 FR 70623-70624) for a teleconference of a joint meeting of the Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee (GPAC) and the Liquid Pipeline Advisory Committee (LPAC) (Shared Web Site) on December 17th, 2013.

The joint meeting will consider a proposed rule to incorporate by reference two new standards and 21 updated editions of currently referenced standards in 49 CFR Parts 192, 193, and 195. This is apparently the “Periodic Updates of Regulatory References to Technical Standards and Miscellaneous Amendments” NPRM that according to the Spring 2013 Regulatory Agenda is supposed to be published in December. Obviously, that date won’t be met as this meeting is part of the regulatory review process at PHMSA before that NPRM would be published. I suspect that the earliest this will go to the Office of Management and Budget for their final review will be sometime in January.

One of the topics that should come up in this discussion will be how these updates will be made while complying with the congressional mandate {§24 of the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 (PL 112-90)} to reduce reliance on such incorporation by reference documents. That requirement prohibited PHMSA from using such documents unless they were available without charge to the regulated community. There are on-going discussions in PHMSA about this issue and Congress modified the requirements earlier this year (PL 113-30).

The public is invited to follow the teleconference (there is no mention in the notice of allowing public comments during the discussion) either via telephone or in person (in Washington, DC). The teleconference number will be made available on the PHMSA web site at some future date (though the PHMSA web site is circuitous at best). There is a link to the meeting page where you are supposed to be able to register for the in-person option, but as of 05:30 CST this morning there is no sign-up information on that site.

Public comments are being solicited but there is some confusion about where to send the comments. There are two different docket numbers referenced in the notice for use on the Federal eRulemaking Portal (www.Regulations.gov).  The first docket number PHMSA-2009-020 is the generic docket number for the meetings of these two advisory committees. Since it contains a copy of today’s FR notice it is probably the proper place to post comments. The second docket number reference (PHMSA-2013-2003) is almost certainly a bad misprint as there have not been 2002 PHMSA docket entries this year.

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