Tuesday, March 1, 2016

OMB Approves PHMSA Pipeline NPRM

On Saturday the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) announced that it had approved the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) notice of proposed rulemaking on gas transmission pipeline safety. The advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) was published back in 2011, and PHMSA sent the current NPRM to OIRA last April.

According to the Fall 2015 Unified Agenda this rulemaking will address integrity management principles for Gas Transmission pipelines; including:

• Repair criteria for both HCA and non-HCA areas;
• Assessment methods;
• Validating and integrating pipeline data, risk assessments, knowledge gained through the IM program;
• Corrosion control;
• Management of change;
• Gathering lines; and
• Safety features on launchers and receivers.

Congress has questioned the length of time that it has taken PHMSA to complete pipeline related rulemakings. As noted above it took PHMSA four years to move this rulemaking from the ANPRM stage to the submission of the NPRM to OMB. Part of the reason for this was the complexity of the rulemaking and the number of questions (121 questions, many with multiple parts) that PHMSA asked in the ANPRM. There were 106 responses to the ANPRM and many of them were quite lengthy (the response from the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America ran to 124 pages). This also undoubtedly contributed to the 11 months it took OIRA to approve the NPRM.

I expect that we will see this NPRM published in the Federal Register sometime next week.

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