PHMSA’s Pipeline Advisory Committees Meet Virtually

By Erin Kurilla posted 10-21-2021 10:51 AM

  
The Gas and Liquid Pipeline Advisory Committees for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) met virtually this week for the first time since October 2020. These groups are statutorily mandated committees that provide PHMSA with recommendations on proposed regulations for gas and oil pipelines. Their responsibilities include reviewing PHMSA’s regulatory initiatives and determining their “technical feasibility, reasonableness, cost-effectiveness, and practicability.” APGA is represented on this committee by Rich Worsinger from Wilson Energy and the meetings are open to the public.

This meeting’s agenda included several updates from PHMSA staff on topics ranging from the PIPES Act of 2020 to Pipeline Safety Management Systems to Pipeline Security. Acting Administrator Tristian Brown provided opening remarks that emphasized the agency prioritizing the finalization of rulemakings that have been in-progress for years as well as those that will “meaningfully enhance safety and protect the environment.” Section 114 of the PIPES Act of 2020 is a self-executing mandate for operators to update their Operations & Maintenance (O&M) plans to eliminate hazardous leaks, minimize methane emissions, and replace or remediate leak prone pipe by December 27, 2021. PHMSA and their state partners will then spend 2022 inspecting all natural gas pipeline operators on their compliance with this mandate. During a discussion on the topic, Rich Worsinger reminded PHMSA that the scope of the mandate is limited to O&M plans and encouraged PHMSA to increase transparency about what inspection questions would be asked for enforcement versus informative purposes.

The committees also discussed and voted on a path forward for the pending Periodic Updates of Regulatory References to Technical Standards and Miscellaneous Amendments rulemaking. APGA joined industry comments on the proposed rule in March 2021. This rulemaking will have very little, if any, impact on APGA members’ operations.

All meeting materials can be found at https://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/meetings/MtgHome.mtg?mtg=154&nocache=9447 and at https://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/meetings/MtgHome.mtg?mtg=156&nocache=9447

For questions on this article, please contact Erin Kurilla of APGA staff by phone at 202-464-2742 or by email at ekurilla@apga.org.

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