Since 9/11, no new rules or regulations have been promulgated to address pipeline or LNG facility security or cybersecurity. Although the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently released an updated version of its “Pipeline Security Guidelines” (Guidelines) that were last issued in 2011, those Guidelines remain advisory. And both the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have made only informal outreach to pipeline and LNG industry as issues have arisen. As the threat of both cyber and physical attacks on critical energy infrastructure continues, however, some question whether minimal standards for prevention of threats should be in place. In particular, there has been recent attention by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), members of Congress, and at least one Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) commissioner. (See E&E News Article of May 29, 2018). These discussions, along with recent proposed legislation in the House and the fact that the Pipeline Safety Act is up for reauthorization later this year, are likely to bring these issues into sharper focus.
Oil and gas provides nearly two thirds of all energy used in the United States, which is primarily transported by pipelines. The United States currently has roughly 2.8 million miles of pipelines. Most of this infrastructure is buried, but aboveground components exist along pipeline routes, including pump stations and valve stations and compressor stations as well as other aboveground equipment and facilities. Historically, incidents of pipeline sabotage have been rare but in just the past year, they have increased in response to high profile pipeline construction projects. These attacks are well coordinated and appear to be well funded. Impacts could be catastrophic to public safety, the environment, and reliability of energy infrastructure in the United States. The federal government has expressly designated oil and gas pipelines as critical energy infrastructure for increased protection and current law provides for significant penalties and imprisonment for those who attempt to damage these facilities. Continue Reading Protecting Critical Energy Infrastructure from Pipeline Sabotage