PHMSA recently finalized a rule that significantly revises certain aspects of liquid pipeline safety regulation under 49 CFR Part 195. Nearly nine years in the making, the final rule is intended to address PHMSA and NTSB accident investigation findings from the Marshall Michigan spill in 2010 as well as 2011 and 2016 outstanding Congressional mandates
Tomorrow’s Federal Register will include three final rules published by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) that have been years in the making: (1) Safety of Gas Transmission Pipelines: Maximum Allowable Operating Pressure Reconfirmation, Expansion of Assessment Requirements, and Other Related Amendments; (2) Safety of Hazardous Liquid Pipelines; and (3) Enhanced Emergency Order Procedures. All three rules have been lingering at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review for at least several months, and probably none have been more anticipated than the gas transmission and liquid pipeline rules.
Since the Trump Administration took office, oil and gas industry stakeholders have questioned whether pending PHMSA rulemakings will move forward, whether the rate of PHMSA enforcement will continue, and whether agency priorities will change. The API conference held in San Antonio last week provided a rare opportunity in recent months for the industry to hear from key PHMSA personnel and industry practitioners on the status of agency priorities, rulemakings, enforcement and leadership vacancies. As explained below, while the Agency currently lacks key leadership positions and is analyzing executive directives on rulemaking, it intends to move forward with proposed rules and continue enforcement.