APGA Weekly Update November 17, 2016

11-17-2016 13:49

APGA Weekly Update, November 17, 2016
APGA Operations Conference Was a Huge Success
Over 200 people participated in the APGA Operations Conference in Chattanooga, Tenn.,
November 8-10. This was the first conference sponsored by APGA in over 15 years for utility
managers and suppliers involved with operations and engineering. The conference featured
two full days of presentations on operations, engineering, safety and regulatory topics, plus a
sold-out exhibit featuring the latest in equipment and services for natural gas utility operations.
Twenty-four APGA Associates staffed booths providing attendees with the opportunity to see
and touch equipment as well as answer questions about products and services they provide.
APGA Operations and Safety Committee Chairman Matt Stennett from Middle Tennessee
Natural Gas welcomed the attendees and thanked the exhibitors for their support. Don Maness
of Honeywell followed with a multimedia presentation on leadership, using clips from the
movie Remember the Titans to illustrate six types of leadership and the appropriate
circumstances where each type works best. Peter Chase of the Public Utility Commission of
Ohio and Chairman of the National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives (NAPSR)
came next discussing NAPSR’s priorities for 2017, including helping operators understand and
comply with recent and future regulations, improving excavation damage prevention programs
and encouraging adoption of safety management systems. Tuesday’s session closed with a case
study of an accident presented by Greg Thacker and Jacob O’Bryant of Cartersville, Ga., and
Glen Boatwright of York County Natural Gas Authority discussing developing and implementing
effective emergency response plans.
Wednesday began with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s Max
Kieba describing the proposed changes to plastic pipe regulations, followed by two parallel
roundtable breakouts on two of the major topics in the rule: trenchless construction, and
tracking and traceability. Similar presentations and breakouts focused on the recently finalized
excess flow valve rule and the pending changes to operator qualification rules.
After lunch, Steve Prue of Midwest Energy talked about pipeline safety management systems,
which had also been emphasized by Peter Chase on day one, followed by Mike Deegan of
Clearwater Gas describing the safety programs that earned Clearwater Gas the APGA Safety
Management Excellence Award in 2016.
Thursday morning focused on excavation damage prevention. Excavation damage is the leading
cause of natural gas distribution reportable incidents. Craig Ingram of Tennessee 811 discussed
attributes of effective damage prevention programs, followed by an overview of the Gold
Shovel Standard Program—a collaboration between public works departments, municipalities,
gas and electric utilities, and cable and telecom providers to curtail excavation damage to
buried infrastructure—by Rick Galyean, administrator of the program. The conference closed
with a review of products and services offered by the APGA Security and Integrity Foundation
and a short roundtable discussion of operations and engineering topics.
Based on the success of this conference and the outstanding support from APGA members and
associates, APGA plans to hold an operations conference and exhibit every other year, with the
next conference planned for fall 2018. For questions on this article, please contact John
Erickson of APGA staff by phone at 202-464-0834 or by email at jerickson@apga.org.
BLM Releases Venting/Flaring Rule for Oil and Gas Production on Public Lands
On November 15, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released
a final rule implementing regulations on flaring, venting, and leaks from oil and gas production
on federal lands. The proposed rule was released in January of this year and after notice, public
comment, and public meetings, the final BLM rule was released.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that has 25 times the global warming potential of carbon
dioxide. Given the dramatic impact of methane, the Obama Administration has focused on
reducing methane emissions by 45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025 as part of President
Obama’s Climate Action Plan.
Though oil and gas production has boomed in the U.S. over the last six years, most of the
production has taken place on private lands due to the location of shale oil and gas deposits.
The BLM noted itself that only five percent of U.S. oil supply and 11 percent of natural gas
supplies are located in federal lands.
However, despite the comparatively small amount of oil and gas resources in federal lands, the
Obama Administration sought to justify the need for the rule arguing on its fact sheet that the
BLM estimated that between 2009 and 2015, “oil and gas producers on public and Indian lands
vented, flared and leaked about 462 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas. That’s enough gas to
supply about 6.2 million households for a year.” The fact sheet also notes that the
vented/flared gas costs taxpayers $23 million in royalty revenue as well. Moving forward, BLM
argues that implementing the rule would save 41 Bcf of gas per year from being wasted.
Response from the production industry was swift, as within 37 minutes of the rule being
announced, the Western Energy Alliance and the Independent Petroleum Association of
America announced a lawsuit against the BLM rule. Regardless of the legal challenges, the
methane rule faces an uncertain future under a Trump Administration. President-Elect Trump
made repealing regulations a centerpiece of his economic program to bring back jobs to the
U.S. APGA will keep members informed about any developments with this rule.
For questions on this article, please contact Scott Morrison of APGA staff by phone at 202-464-
2742 or by email at smorrison@apga.org.
House Leadership Urges Executive Agencies to Not Release Final Rules
On November 15, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and the chairmen of the
committees in the House of Representatives sent a letter to agency and executive department
leaders that urges them to not issue any finalized regulations in the final days of the
administration. President-Elect Trump’s Administration will assume power after the
inauguration on January 20.
In the letter, the House Republican leadership communicated that, “We write to caution you
against finalizing pending rules or regulations in the Administration's last days. By refraining
from acting with undue haste, you will ensure that agency staff may fully assess the costs and
benefits of rules, making it less likely that unintended consequences will harm consumers and
business." The letter also states that this halt in rulemakings, “is necessary to afford the
recently elected Administration and Congress the opportunity to review and give direction
concerning pending rulemakings." Lastly, the letter warns the agencies that if they move
forward with releasing final regulations that “we will work with our colleagues to ensure that
Congress scrutinizes your actions—and, if appropriate, overturns them—pursuant to the
Congressional Review Act."
It remains unclear how the Administration will proceed in terms of releasing finalized
regulations and specifically how and if the Department of Energy (DOE) furnace rule will move
forward. APGA has adamantly opposed DOE’s furnace rule and will be submitting strong
comments in opposition to the rule on November 22. We are evaluating next steps should a
final rule be issued and we are also in discussions with other stakeholders regarding potential
options if it is released. For questions on this article, please contact Dave Schryver of APGA staff
by phone at 202-464-274 or by email at dschryver@apga.org.
Senate and House Leadership Teams Announced
The Republican and Democrat parties held closed-door meetings on the morning of November
16 to announce the leadership teams for both chambers.
In the Senate, Republican Majority Leader McConnell (R-Ky.) was unanimously re-elected to the
Majority Leader position after having successfully navigated the Obama presidency, the 2016
elections, and the vacant Supreme Court seat. Joining Majority Leader McConnell are: Senator
Cornyn (R-Texas) as Republican Whip; Senator Thune (R-S.D.) as Republican Conference
Chairman; Senator Barrasso (R-Wyo.) as Republican Policy Committee chairman; Senator Blunt
(R-Mo.) as Republican Conference Vice Chairman; and, Senator Gardner (R-Colo.) as National
Republican Senatorial Committee chairman
For Senate Democrats, Senator Schumer (D-N.Y.) was elected as Minority Leader, jumping over
the Minority Whip, Senator Durbin (D-Ill.), who was technically next in line for the job.
However, Schumer’s status as a moderate dealmaker and tough negotiator proved to be
important qualities. Joining Sneator Schumer are: Senator Durbin as Minority Whip; Senator
Murray as Assistant Democratic Leader; Senator Sanders (I-Vt.) as Chair of Outreach; Senator
Manchin (D-W.Va.) as Vice Chair of Policy and Communications Committee; and, Senator
Baldwin (D-Wis.) as Conference Secretary.
In the House, Republicans unanimously elected Representative Ryan (R-Wis.) to his second
term as Speaker of the House. Before the elections, the House Freedom Caucus—a tea-party
aligned group—had issued veiled threats against Ryan for not supporting Donald J. Trump’s
candidacy for President. With Trump’s victory in hand, as well as the House and Senate secure,
those grievances appear to have subsided, leading to the easy re-election. The relationship
between the House Freedom Caucus and Speaker Ryan will be one to watch, as in the 114th
Congress, the relationship was strained.
On the Democrat side in the House, Minority Leader Pelosi (D-Calif.) has agreed to an unusual
request to postpone the elections for all House Democrat leadership positions until November
30. This is due to widespread House Democrat dissatisfaction with her leadership after four
disappointing elections in a row, with the 2016 elections widely considered a disaster. There
are rumors that Representative Ryan (D-Ohio) may seek to challenge Speaker Pelosi, with some
members speculating that a moderate, Midwesterner is what is needed for Democrats to get
back on track. APGA will provide members with further updates to leadership posts and
committee assignments as they become available.
For questions on this article, please contact Scott Morrison of APGA staff by phone at 202-464-
2742 or by email at smorrison@apga.org.
APGA Hosts Webinar on DOE’s Furnace Rule
On November 16, APGA and the Gas Technology Institute held a webinar to review the
Department of Energy’s (DOE) Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rule (SNOPR) for residential
furnaces. DOE is proposing to raise the efficiency of natural gas furnaces to 92 percent with a
small furnace exemption for furnaces of 55,000 Btu or less. The webinar cover GTI’s ongoing
technical analysis of DOE’s data and modeling. Participants also had a chance to ask GTI and
APGA questions. APGA also discussed the various options available to members to submit
comments. For those unable to participate, APGA recorded the webinar, which is available at
http://community.apga.org/viewdocument/doe-furnace-rule-and-next-steps. Comments on
the SNOPR are due on November 22.
In addition to the webinar, APGA has also developed a sample comment letter and drafted key
talking points on the proposed rule. Please contact APGA if you need the materials discussed in
this article or would like staff to review your comment letter. For questions on this article,
please contact Dave Schryver at dschryver@apga.org or Dan Lapato at dlapato@apga.org or at
EIA Reports Storage Increase of 30 Bcf to Put Working Gas Storage at 4,047 Bcf
Here is the weekly EIA Summary Report issued on Thursday, November 17, 2016, which reports
the week’s storage report highlights for Friday, November 11, 2016. A 30 Bcf increase has been
Working gas in storage was 4,047 Bcf as of Friday, November 11, 2016, according to EIA
estimates. This represents a net increase of 30 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 51 Bcf
higher than last year at this time and 216 Bcf above the five-year average of 3,831 Bcf. At 4,047
Bcf, total working gas is above the five-year historical range.

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