Compliance Deadlines Approaching: Pipeline Safety Mega Rule

Regulators are looking at a ticking time clock for covered entities in the gas transmission industry to ensure their compliance with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s “Mega Rule” — a rulemaking trilogy intended to improve the safety of onshore gas transmission pipelines.

The Mega Rule addresses safety recommendations and congressional directives following the Sept. 9, 2010, Pacific Gas and Electric Company pipeline rupture and fire in San Bruno, California. See generally Pipeline Accident Report, NTSB/PAR-11/01 PB 2011-916501. In doing so, the Mega Rule revises the pipeline safety regulations that PHMSA issued under Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 192.

For example, in 2011, Congress enacted the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act, which required PHMSA to make several regulatory changes to improve pipeline safety. PHMSA went on to address those changes in its advance notice of proposed rulemaking, dated Aug. 25, 2011, as well as its notice of proposed rulemaking, issued April 8, 2016. Other legislation, including the Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016 signed by then-President Barack Obama, as well as the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety of 2020 signed by then-President Donald Trump, added other requirements.

The Mega Rule represents years of collective work that incorporates input from stakeholders, including those in the pipeline industry, public interest groups and government entities. Promulgated Oct. 1, 2019, with an effective date of July 1, 2020, Part I primarily concerns maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) and integrity management near high-consequence areas (HCAs) for onshore gas transmission pipelines. Promulgated Nov. 15, 2021, with an effective date of May 16, 2022, Part II extends federal safety requirements to onshore gas gathering pipelines with large diameters and high operating pressures. Lastly, finalized Aug. 24, 2022 with an effective date of May 24, 2023, Part III applies to onshore gas transmission pipelines and clarifies integrity management regulations, corrosion control requirements, repair criteria for both HCA and non-HCA pipelines, and inspection following extreme weather events, among other things.

With all three parts of the Mega Rule finalized and effective, the onus is now on transmission companies to comply with the Mega Rule’s various requirements. While the Mega Rule certainly will impact all gas transmission companies, compliance timelines and costs for each individual company may vary significantly. To aid with compliance generally, the chart below reflects several important upcoming deadlines that transmission companies should keep in mind:

Rule Part Effective Date Compliance Description Compliance Deadline/Enforcement Discretion
Part I July 1, 2020 MAOP verification of previously grandfathered pipelines 50% of pipeline mileage remediated by July 3, 2028; 100% of pipeline mileage remediated by July 2, 2035  
Part I July 1, 2020 New population classification (moderate-consequence areas) Operators must perform an initial assessment for all applicable pipeline segments by July 3, 2034, as well as complete periodic reassessments at least once every 10 years
Part II May 16, 2022 Annual reports Must be submitted each year, not later than March 15, for the preceding calendar year (beginning in March 2023 for the 2022 calendar year)
Part II May 16, 2022 Incident Reports As soon as practicable but not more than 30 days after detection of an incident required to be reported under § 191.5 that occurs after May 16, 2022
Part III May 24, 2023 Management of change process improvements (for all pipeline segments, not just HCAs) Must be implemented by Feb. 26, 2024
Part III May 24, 2023 Additional internal and external corrosion requirements (e.g., gas stream sampling and internal corrosion monitoring results) Beginning Feb. 26, 2024

*The chart above is a sampling of the Mega Rule’s many requirements stemming from changes to 49 CFR Part 192.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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