THE SOURCE - Fall 2015 - (Page 37)

the pipeline Reauthorizing the Pipeline Safety Act By John Erickson In 1968, Congress passed the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act (NGPSA), authorizing the Department of Transportation (DOT) to regulate the design, construction, operation and maintenance of natural gas transmission and distribution systems to promote pipeline safety. DOT then issued pipeline safety regulations found at parts 190 to 199 in the Code of Federal Regulations. Those regulations have been amended 120 times since they were first published in 1970, most recently in March 2015 with the publication of the so-called Miscellaneous Rule, which combined 17 unrelated changes to pipeline safety regulations. The NGPSA has also been amended by Congress many times, most recently with the passage of the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 in a process known as reauthorization. As the word implies, by reauthorizing the NGPSA, Congress extends DOT's authority to regulate pipeline safety and establishes DOT's pipeline safety budget for the period of reauthorization, which is typically four years. These reauthorization laws do more than just set budgets and allow DOT to continue to regulate. In each reauthorization bill in recent years, Congress has instructed DOT to take specific actions that Congress believes are necessary to address particular pipeline safety issues. These may include requirements for DOT to study certain issues and report back to Congress or to conduct rulemakings on specific topics. Often, the reports and rulemakings mandated by Congress involve issues raised by pipeline accidents that have occurred since the last reauthorization. Several of these issues include: * The 1988 reauthorization followed a transmission pipeline accident in Beaumont, Ky., and included 10 mandates for regulations related to the facts of that accident, including mandates to make pipelines able to be inspected using smart pigs; * The 1992 reauthorization followed a series of accidents on distribution lines in the Kansas City area and included 16 mandatory regulations including excess flow valves and customer-owned piping; * The 1996 reauthorization followed a transmission pipeline accident in Edison, N.J., and included mandates for rules addressing public awareness; and, * The most recent reauthorization in 2011 followed a transmission pipeline accident in San Bruno, Calif., and included numerous mandates addressing the facts surrounding that accident including verifying maximum allowable operating pressures, studying remote and automatic shutoff valves and leak detection systems. The 2011 reauthorization authorized funding of DOT's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's (PHMSA) pipeline safety program through fiscal year 2015, which ends this September 30. Therefore, a new reauthorization of the NGPSA will soon be occurring. Looking at some recent accidents provides some insight as to what mandates for new regulations and studies Congress may include in this year's reauthorization. Many of the regulations mandated in the 2011 reauthorization have not yet been completed by PHMSA. As such, this year's reauthorization may include provisions addressing issues remaining from the 2011 act. Perhaps the highest profile recent pipeline accident occurred on March 12, 2014 in New York City when two buildings were destroyed and a leak was found in an 8-inch cast iron main in the street near the buildings. Cast iron mains were also involved in accidents in Philadelphia and Allentown, Penn. It is reasonable to assume that Congress will consider additional actions to accelerate the replacement of cast iron and also bare steel pipelines in this year's reauthorization. In addition, much attention has been raised about methane as a greenhouse gas. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Google have teamed up to put gas detectors on Google's street view camera vehicles and have published maps on EDF's website showing the locations in Boston, New York and other cities where gas was detected. APGA anticipates that PHMSA's leak survey and leak repair regulations could come under scrutiny during this reauthorization. Currently, only hazardous leaks must be immediately repaired, while leaks that are non-hazardous can be monitored by the utility to ensure the leak does not grow to become hazardous rather than immediately repaired. Congress could require PHMSA to consider the environmental impact of its leak repair requirements in addition to safety impacts. Any reauthorization bill will work its way through the various subcommittees and committees with jurisdiction over transportation. APGA staff will be talking to the committee staff to learn about provisions being considered that might impact APGA members and to communicate our thoughts and concerns as the reauthorization process proceeds. John Erickson is Vice President of Operations at APGA. THE SOURCE | FALL 2015, VOL. 8, ISSUE 1 37

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of THE SOURCE - Fall 2015

First Person
APGA Events
Q&A: Senator Gardner
APGA Responds to Efficiency Standards
Georgia Forms New State Association
Greenest CNG Station Opens in Tennessee
Factors that Fuel the Decision to Switch to CNG
Emerging CSST Products
Debut of the Gas Equipment & Appliance Conference
New Management Program for a Growing System
Shale and Natural Gas Lead U.S. Manufacturing Resurgence
Legislative Outlook
The Pipeline
Marketing Matters
Advertisers’ Index/Advertiser.com
At Last

THE SOURCE - Fall 2015

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