Updates / Newsletters

Pipeline Safety Update - Issue No. 116

October 19, 2016

PHMSA Publishes Final Rule Expanding Installation of Excess Flow Valves

On October 14, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published its final rule expanding the requirement to install either excess flow valves (EFVs) or manual service line shut-off valves (e.g. curb valves) on new or replaced service lines.  The final rule requires that operators:

  • Install EFVs on new or replaced branched service lines servicing single family residences, multifamily residences and small commercial entities consuming gas volumes not exceeding 1,000 standard cubic feet per hour (SCGH).  An EFV is not required if (1) the service line does not operate at a pressure of at least 10 psig throughout the year; (2) the operator has experienced gas stream contaminants that could interfere with the EFV’s operation or impede customer service, (3) an EFV could interfere with necessary operation or maintenance activities, or (4) an EFV meeting performance standards is not commercially available.  
  • Use either manual service line shut-off valves (curb valves) or EFVs for new or replaced service lines with meter capacities exceeding 1,000 SCFH.  Over the objections of some commenters, the final rule requires that curb valves be accessible to qualified and authorized first responders during emergencies. 
  • Notify customers of their right to request installation of an EFV on existing service lines.  The operator’s rate-setter will determine who is responsible for installation costs.

The rule will become effective on April 14, 2017.  Additional information regarding PHMSA’s final rule is available on Regulations.gov

Interagency Task Force Releases Final Report and Recommendations on Underground Natural Gas Storage. 

On October 14, the federal Interagency Task Force released its final report and fact sheet on underground natural gas storage.  The Task Force, created following the natural gas leak at the Aliso Canyon Storage Facility in California, was co-chaired by the Department of Energy and PHMSA, and included members from numerous federal, state, and local government agencies.  The report includes 44 recommendations in three areas of study: well integrity, public health and environmental effects, and energy reliability.  PHMSA has indicated that, in the coming months, it intends to issue interim safety regulations for underground natural gas storage facilities that incorporate American Petroleum Institute Recommended Practices 1170 and 1171.  PHMSA also intends to undertake a phased rulemaking process and provide industry guidance that will be informed by the Task Force report.

PHMSA Rulemakings UpdateThe tables below summarize the status of PHMSA’s rulemakings as reported in the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) October Significant Rulemaking Report and by OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Spring 2016 Unified Regulatory Agenda.  Revised dates appear in bold.

Pending Final Rules


DOT Estimated Submission to OMB*

DOT Estimated Publication

OIRA Estimated Publication 

Expanding the Use of Excess Flow Valves in Gas Distribution Systems to Applications Other than Single-Family Residences

Published on October 14, 2016

Plastic Pipe Rule

Not listed by DOT

Not listed by DOT

October 2016 

Operator Qualification, Cost Recovery, Accident and Incident Notification, and Other Pipeline Safety Proposed Changes

Not listed by DOT  Not listed by DOT  October 2016

Safety of Gas Transmission and Gathering Pipelines

No Estimate
No Estimate
No Estimate

Safety of Hazardous Liquid Pipelines

 October 19, 2016 December 30, 2016   October 2016

Underground Storage Facilities (interim final rule) 

November 2, 2016  February 14, 2017   August 2016


Pending Notices of Proposed Rulemaking


DOT Estimated Submission to OMB*

DOT Estimated Publication 

OIRA Estimated Publication 

Periodic Updates of Regulatory References to Technical Standards and Miscellaneous Amendments  Not listed by DOT  Not listed by DOT July 2016

State Pipeline Safety Program Certification

Not listed by DOT

Not listed by DOT

August 2016

Valve Installation and Minimum Rupture Detection Standards

 January 24, 2017  May 3, 2017 September 2016 


*Under Executive Order (EO) 12866, OMB reviews proposed significant rules to ensure they are consistent with applicable law, the President’s priorities, and the principles set forth in the EO, and to ensure the proposals do not conflict with another agency’s policies or actions. OMB also analyzes the cost-benefit analyses in support of the proposals. While the EO sets out deadlines for OMB evaluation, review periods are often extended.   


PHMSA publishes civil penalty framework and policy statement.  On October 17, PHMSA published its civil penalty framework and policy statement, previously released on October 11.  The civil penalty framework also is posted on PHMSA’s website. 

PHMSA publishes interim final rule implementing new emergency order authorityOn October 14, PHMSA’s interim final rule establishing temporary regulations to implement the new emergency order authority granted under the Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016 (PIPES Act) was published in the Federal Register.  Comments are due December 13, 2016.

DOT Inspector General releases audit report regarding PHMSA’s implementation of mandates and recommendations.  On October 14, the DOT Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released an Audit Report of PHMSA’s pipeline and hazardous materials safety programs entitled Insufficient Guidance, Oversight, and Coordination Hinder PHMSA’s Full Implementation of Mandates and Recommendations.  The report assesses PHMSA’s progress in addressing congressional mandates and recommendations of the National Transportation Safety Board, the Government Accountability Office, and OIG with respect to PHMSA’s pipeline safety and hazardous materials safety programs.  OIG concludes that a lack of sufficient processes, project management and oversight has impeded PHMSA’s ability to meet deadlines, but that the agency is implementing organizational changes to improve its ability to address mandates and recommendations.  OIG also found that PHMSA has not adequately coordinated with other DOT Operating Administrations on rulemaking and international standards development with respect to the transportation of hazardous materials.  The report makes several recommendations to PHMSA to improve its implementation of mandates and recommendations.

Van Ness Feldman has prepared an overview of the Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of 2016, and a redline showing how the PIPES Act modified the legislative text of the pipeline safety laws.  For copies, contact Susan Olenchuk at SAM@vnf.com, Bryn Karaus at BSK@vnf.com, or Tyson Kade at TCK@vnf.com.



SB 1235 (Baker) and HB 2308 (Godshall).  The Pennsylvania General Assembly is currently considering two bills that would extend the state’s Underground Utility Line Protection Act, which is currently set to expire at the end of 2016.  HB 2308 would extend the expiration until the end of 2017, and would make no other changes to the Act.  SB 1235 would extend the expiration until 2021, transfer enforcement authority from the Department of Labor to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, and remove existing exemptions related to municipalities, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the extraction of natural resources and certain gathering lines.  SB 1235 would provide for mapping of abandoned lines and facilities, establish a damage prevention committee, place additional duties on facility owners, excavators and project owners, and provide for assessments, fees and penalties. 

SB 1235 has been passed by the Senate.  Both bills are currently under consideration by the House.


Oil Spill Contingency Plan Rulemaking.  The Department of Ecology adopted amendments to its Oil Spill Contingency Plan Rule.  The changes are intended to ensure that required oil spill response equipment is appropriate for the pipeline risks and operating environments for both marine and inland areas, to enhance air monitoring and spills to ground requirements, and to clarify language and ensure consistency with federal regulations.  The amendments become effective November 12, 2016.  


On September 29, Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) published proposed “Pipeline Financial Requirements Regulations” that would impose “no-fault” absolute liability of $1 billion on companies operating federally regulated major oil pipelines following an unintended or uncontrolled pipeline release.  The proposed regulations would implement the requirements of Canada’s Pipeline Safety Act passed by Parliament on June 19, 2016, which established an absolute liability of $1 billion for companies operating oil pipelines transporting 250,000 or more barrels per day and provided that the NEB establish classes of other pipelines and corresponding liability limits for them.  The no-fault liability regime is intended to ensure a prompt response to uncontrolled or unintended releases in advance of determining fault and to protect the public from costs and damages.  Consistent with the Act, the proposed regulations would establish other classes of pipelines transporting oil, gas and other commodities with proposed corresponding liability limits.  The proposed regulations also address requirements for maintaining financial resources to match the limit of absolute liability.  Comments are due 30 days from publication of the proposed regulations. 


To download a full text PDF, which includes Dates of Interest, upcoming PHMSA State Seminars, and State Specific Association Meetings, please click here.


Susan A. Olenchuk
Washington, DC
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Dates of Interest

January 2022
19 API Virtual Pipeline Facilities Integrity Workshop
31-2/4 GSP Pipeline Pigging and Integrity Management Conference, Houston, TX
February 2022
14 Comments due on ICA, Gas and Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Program Performance Report
22-26 PLCA 74th Annual Convention, Phoenix, AZ
25 Comments due on Interim Final Rule Amending USA Definition
March 2022
1-3 Global Excavation Safety Conference and Expo, Phoenix, AZ
13-16 SGA Spring Gas Conference, Columbia, SC
25-30 APCA Annual Convention, Scottsdale, AZ
29-31 PRCI The Technology for Future and Ageing Pipelines Conference, Virtual
April 2022
4-6 MEA Gas Ops Roundtable, Omaha, NE
4-8 Common Ground Alliance Conference & Expo, Anaheim, CA
19-20 NGA Spring Operations Conference, Saratoga Springs, NY

State-Specific Association Meetings

January 2022
11 OGA Codes and Regulations Meeting, Virtual
31-2/2 Louisiana Damage Prevention Summit, Baton Rouge, LA
February 2022
7-10 Nebraska Pipeline Safety Seminar, Kearney, NE
23-24 MNGA Annual Tradeshow, Tupelo, MS
March 2022
22-23 KGA Annual Expo, Lexington, KY