Pending Advanced Notices of Proposed Rulemakings
DOT Estimated Publication
OIRA Estimated Publication
Coastal Ecological Unusually Sensitive Areas
OTHER PHMSA UPDATES
DOT increases maximum civil penalties under the Pipeline Safety Act. On November 27, DOT issued a final rule increasing the civil penalties that PHMSA may assess under section 60122 of the Pipeline Safety Act. The maximum civil penalty for each pipeline safety violation increased from $209,002 to $213,268, and the maximum penalty for a related series of pipeline safety violations increased from $2,090,022 to $2,132,679. The maximum penalty for liquefied natural gas pipeline safety violations increased from $76,352 to $77,910. These increases account for inflation.
The random drug testing rate remains at 50 percent for 2019. On December 11, PHMSA issued a Notice that the minimum random drug testing rate for covered employees will remain at 50% during calendar year 2019. The notice reminds operators with 50 or more employees to submit their annual Drug and Alcohol Management Information System (DAMIS) reports containing drug and alcohol testing information for employees and contractors performing (or ready to perform) covered functions. DAMIS user names and passwords will be available via the PHMSA Portal in January 2019.
PHMSA Voluntary Information Sharing Working Group to meet on December 18-19. On November 27, PHMSA issued a notice that the Voluntary Information-Sharing (VIS) Working Group will meet on December 18-19 in Washington D.C. to continue discussions regarding establishment of a voluntary information-sharing system. Information on this meeting and previous meetings is here.
DOT’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) announces audit of PHMSA’s oversight of LNG facilities. On October 16, DOT’s OIG announced that it has initiated an audit of PHMSA’s oversight of LNG facility operators’ compliance with Part 193 safety regulations which address the siting, design, construction, operation, and security of LNG facilities. PHMSA also oversees 151 LNG plants in conjunction with state pipeline safety offices. Noting that PHMSA’s LNG oversight responsibilities may increase as U.S. LNG exports are projected to increase and that PHMSA’s oversight will need to be effective and efficient, OIG states that it will assess PHMSA’s oversight of LNG operators’ compliance with federal regulations and states that conduct inspections of LNG facilities.
UPDATES FROM OTHER FEDERAL AGENCIES
TSA seeks comment regarding extension of information collection request involving pipeline security information. On October 29, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued a Notice requesting public comment on a proposed extension of a currently approved information collection request under which pipelines are encouraged to notify the Transportation Security Operations Center of incidents that may indicate a deliberate attempt to disrupt pipeline operations and activities that could be precursors to such an attempt. Notifications are provided to TSA pursuant to the Pipeline Security Guidelines. Comments are due December 28.
UPDATES FROM INDUSTRY
AGA releases report on leading practices to reduce over-pressurization events. On November 26, the American Gas Association (AGA) released a report entitled “Leading Practices to Reduce the Possibility of a Natural Gas Over-Pressurization Event.” The document provides guidance to natural gas utilities identifying practices that exceed regulatory requirements that may, depending on the unique characteristics of each operator’s system, help to reduce over-pressurization events.
Northeast Gas Association seeks consulting assistance implementing pipeline safety management systems. On November 26, the Northeast Gas Association (NGA) issued a request for proposals (RFP) seeking a consultant to develop a framework to guide NGA members in consistently implementing pipeline safety management systems, in particular, the approach described in American Petroleum Institute (API) Recommended Practice (RP) 1173. Proposals are due January 11, 2019.
To download a full text PDF, which includes Dates of Interest, upcoming PHMSA State Seminars, and State Specific Association Meetings, please click here.