(We’d like to thank Ben Cooper from AOPL for the following information.)
On May 6, 2005 DOT/PHMSA held a public meeting to discuss the repair process, repair criteria and the agency permitting process with a focus on streamlining the process. A representative from the Council on Environmental Quality reinforced the four point plan for pipeline repair streamlining, first outlined by CEQ Chair James Connaughton at a Senate hearing last summer. The plan commits the federal government to:
- Facilitate early notification by operators of pipeline testing schedules through an innovative information technology application based on the National Pipeline Mapping System;
- Consolidate multi-agency permitting for pipeline repairs into a single review through a concurrent, rather than sequential process;
- Provide for categorical exclusions – automatic permitting — in instances where access for repairs can be carried out with minimal disturbance and previously agreed upon best management practices are used; and
- Develop specific procedures to address situations (examples were presented at the meeting) where the unusual difficulty is encountered in harmonizing repair requirements with environmental requirements.
In addition to the reaffirmation by CEQ of its commitment to the four-point plan, a major positive outcome from the meeting was the statement of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers representative of his intention to propose in the near future a nationwide permit for pipeline repairs. A number of excellent industry presentations from the meeting should appear on the docket in the near future. In addition, the liquid pipeline industry will be collecting data through this site on the liquid pipeline repairs that have taken place since 2001 under the federal integrity management rules. Intra-state natural gas transmission operators are participating in development of procedures streamlining permits for pipeline repairs, and representatives of the interstate natural gas transmission industry spoke at the meeting of their interest in joining the effort. The questions, answers and comments from the public meeting will be stored under the public docket number 20920.