APGA Weekly Update, September 22, 2016
APGA Joins the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s REVIEW Act Support Letter
On September 20, APGA joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s coalition letter supporting the Require
Evaluation before Implementing Executive Wishlists (REVIEW) Act of 2016. This legislation would
require federal agencies to postpone the implementation of any rule imposing an annual cost on the
economy of at least $1 billion if a petition seeking judicial review of that regulation is filed within 60 days
of the rule taking effect. In other words, under the bill, if a new regulation imposes $1 billion or more in
annual costs, it will not go into effect until after litigation challenging it is resolved. If the regulation is
not challenged, it may go into effect as normal. An analysis of recent reports by the Office of
Information and Regulatory Affairs within the Office of Management and Budget indicates that about
five regulations are issued each year that would have an estimated annual impact on the economy of $1
billion or more.
The legislation was passed out of the committee on September 8. While it is unlikely that the Senate
will move to pass similar legislation in the short amount of time remaining in the current congressional
session, the legislation’s intent to provide regulatory relief from wide-reaching regulations provides
potential benefits to APGA members, and the natural gas industry as a whole.
For questions on this article, please contact Dan Lapato of APGA staff by phone at 202-464-2742 or by
email at email@example.com.
APGA Speaks At Florida Natural Gas Association Conference
On September 21, APGA’s Vice President of Operations, John Erickson, discussed current issues being
monitored by APGA affecting public natural gas system operations and safety at the Florida Natural Gas
Association’s Operating & Marketing Conference and Tradeshow in Orlando, Fla. John began with a
review of provisions in the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of
2016, which was signed into law in June. Unlike prior pipeline safety reauthorizations, this bill contained
few requirements for additional studies and regulations. The law will require the Comptroller General to
report back to Congress on a report on the metrics provided to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials
Safety Administration (PHMSA) and other federal and state agencies related to lost and unaccounted for
natural gas (UAF) from distribution systems. If done properly, the report should reaffirm APGA’s position
that leaks are a small portion of UAF and it is not possible to provide an accurate estimate of gas loss
from UAF data.
The remainder of the talk focused on pending changes to pipeline safety regulations. Last year, PHMSA
issued a final rule that has resulted in much confusion over who can inspect newly constructed mains
and transmission lines. The rule is meant to prohibit the individual who performed a task during
construction from self-inspecting his or her own work; however, many construction tasks like lowering
the pipe into the ditch may involve all the personnel, so it is unclear if any of those people may perform
the final inspection for depth of cover and proper backfill. APGA filed a petition for clarification and/or
reconsideration leading to PHMSA agreeing to indefinitely stay the enforcement of the rule. PHMSA
formed a working group to advise it how to fix the regulation, but the task group has yet to meet in
2016. It is unknown when the rule will be finalized.
Last year, PHMSA proposed new requirements to install excess flow valves (EFV) and curb valves on
certain new and replaced service lines to multifamily residential and small commercial customers. The
EFV installation requirements appear reasonable, but the curb valve requirement is troubling in that it
suggests curb valves be operable by first responders other than utility personnel, such as fire fighters
who arrive on the scene of a gas accident. Most utility policies and firefighter training for responding to
a pipeline accident discourage firefighters from operating underground valves. The EFV proposed rule
would also require utilities to notify all customers of the availability of EFVs and install an EFV at the
customer’s request. John noted that PHMSA’s Technical Advisory Group met on June 1 and
recommended that PHMSA modify the rule as suggested by APGA.
John also talked about the proposed plastic pipe changes, many of which APGA supports. The tracking
and traceability provisions that would enable utilities to quickly identify where any pipe or components
subject to a recall or advisory are located on a utility’s system APGA believes is a laudable goal. The
reality of the capability of many operators, both large and small, to implement such a program at a
reasonable cost, however, is questionable. He mentioned that APGA is looking into low cost bar code
scanning and data storage that could make tracking and traceability easy and inexpensive for members.
He discussed the proposed changes to the operator qualification rule that would expand covered tasks
to include tasks related to construction and emergency response. The proposal would also require
operators to write into their operator qualification plans provisions for annual effectiveness assessment
of the OQ program and a management of change policy. Finally, John briefly described the
reauthorization of the Natural Gas Pipeline Act. APGA was pleased that it included no new requirements
Over 200 operators and exhibitors attended this year’s FNGA conference. For questions on this article,
please contact John Erickson of APGA staff by phone at 202-464-2742 or by email at
EIA Reports Storage Increase of 52 Bcf to Put Working Gas Storage at 3,551 Bcf
Here is the weekly EIA Summary Report issued on Thursday, September 22, 2016, which reports the
week’s storage report highlights for Friday, September 16, 2016. A 52 Bcf increase has been reported.
Working gas in storage was 3,551 Bcf as of Friday, September 16, 2016, according to EIA estimates. This
represents a net increase of 52 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 140 Bcf higher than last year at
this time and 268 Bcf above the five-year average of 3,283 Bcf. At 3,551 Bcf, total working gas is above
the five-year historical range.