McAfee & Taft RegLINC - July 2011: PHMSA extends regulatory coverage to all rural, onshore, low-stress hazardous liquid pipelines By Heidi Slinkard Brasher


The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMS) issued a final rule on May 5, 2011, amending its pipeline safety regulations to apply to all rural, low-stress hazardous liquid pipelines in compliance the Pipeline Inspection, Protection, Enforcement, and Safety Act of 2006 (“PIPES Act”), through which PHMSA was required to subject these low-stress hazardous liquid pipelines to the same regulations as other rural hazardous liquid pipelines. Compliance with the PIPES Act occurred in phases, beginning in 2008.

Phase One applied 49 C.F.R. Part 195 regulations to high-risk, large-diameter (8-5/8” or larger) rural, low-stress pipelines within one-half mile of an unusually sensitive area (“USA”). PHMSA began with these pipelines because it had more information on those rural pipelines than others and those rural pipelines were most likely to cause harm to the USAs. The reporting requirements under Part 195 were applied to all rural, low-stress pipelines as well because PHMSA intended to apply the entire Part 195 to all such pipelines in the future and the application of the reporting requirements to all pipelines would help identify the operators and mileage not yet regulated. Additionally, each operator of rural, low-stress pipeline was asked to voluntarily comply with an OMB survey requesting information about the pipelines so a cost assessment could occur regarding the operators’ potential cost of compliance upon application of the regulations and so an evaluation of state incident data collected in the past could be evaluated.

Article authored by McAfee & Taft Attorney: Heidi Slinkard Brasher.

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