DOT Pipeline Compliance News

February 2021 Issue

In This Issue

PHMSA Civil Penalty Update

PHMSA has updated §190.223 Maximum penalties going forward in accordance with the following table.

DescriptionCitationExisting penaltyNew penalty (existing penalty × 1.01764)
Maximum penalty for each pipeline safety violation49 U.S.C. 60122(a)(1)218,647222,504
Maximum penalty for a related series of pipeline safety violations49 U.S.C. 60122(a)(1)2,186,4652,225,034
Maximum additional penalty for each liquefied natural gas pipeline facility violation49 U.S.C. 60122(a)(2)79,87581,284
Maximum penalty for discrimination against employees providing pipeline safety information49 U.S.C. 60122(a)(3)1,2701,292

PHMSA Notice Operator Qualification FAQs

[Docket No. PHMSA-2020-0086]

PHMSA issued a Notice and Request for Comments regarding a revised set of operator qualification (OQ) frequently asked questions (FAQs) that will replace its current FAQs developed in 2003. The proposed revisions will provide greater clarity regarding PHMSA’s OQ regulations, and address the implementation of operator qualification regulations for gas and hazardous liquid pipelines. The revised FAQs would replace current FAQs that are outdated or no longer relevant, and will ensure that each FAQ is tied to a specific regulatory requirement.

Comments on the proposed revised FAQs are due February 16, 2021, and can be submitted via the E-Gov Website. Identify Docket No. PHMSA–2020–0086 at the beginning of your comments.

For a copy of PHMSA’s Notice regarding the revised FAQs, contact Jessica Foley.

Update to Mississippi Damage Prevention Regulations

The State of Mississippi has modified its damage prevention regulations to require the use of their “Positive Response Information System” (PRIS), to communicate the status and plans for pipeline marking.  Before this change, the use of PRIS was optional for facility owners.  PRIS is an automated information system operated and maintained by Mississippi 811, that allows excavators, locators, facility owners or operators, and other affected parties to enter and/or determine the status of a locate request.  Note that this includes positive response, where a facility owner must enter information into PRIS after a One Call notification, even if they have no facilities in the area and do not plan to place marks.  

TRRC 2021 Pipeline Mileage Fees

The Texas Railroad Commission (TRRC) is reminding pipeline operators that their 2021 pipeline mileage fees are due April 1, 2021. Operators will use the number of miles they have permitted as of December 31, 2020, to calculate their 2021 pipeline mileage fee. The deadline for payment without incurring late penalties is April 1. This year’s mileage charts recorded by the TRRC and other information on the fees can be found by clicking here. All mileage fees are required to be paid through the Pipeline Online Permitting System (POPS). View POPS Instructions: POPS User Guide (

For additional information, contact the TRRC Pipeline Safety at or 512-463-6802.

PHMSA Announces Availability of More Than $17 Million for Hazardous Materials and Pipeline Safety Efforts

PHMSA announced that it will accept applications for up to $17 million in grants for safety awareness, training, research, and other activities that will help communities avert or respond to hazardous materials-related transportation incidents.

Each year, PHMSA offers grants to state, tribal, non-profit, and community-based organizations through its safety programs for the nation’s pipeline network and hazardous materials transportation system.  Grant recipients use the funds to train first responders, educate the public on local safety initiatives, develop and commercialize new technologies, or participate in regulatory oversight activities.

Of the $17 million in total funding opportunities, PHMSA is offering up to:

  • $1.5 million through its Technical Assistance Grant program for projects that will foster open communication and address pipeline safety and environmental issues;
  • $1.25 million through its Community Safety Grant program for projects that can supply the best training and outreach activities to help local communities prepare for hazardous materials accidents and incidents involving the transportation of Class 3 flammable liquids;
  • $2.93 million in Pipeline Safety One-Call and State Damage Prevention grants aimed at reducing damage to underground pipelines;
  • $2 million in Pipeline Safety Competitive Academic Agreement Program awards for research and technologies that could improve pipeline transportation safety;
  • $1 million in Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness Tribal grants to increase their effectiveness in safely and efficiently handling hazardous materials transportation accidents and incidents; and
  • $8.1 million in grants for Hazardous Materials Instructor Training, Supplemental Public-Sector Training, Assistance for Local Emergency Responder Training, and Community Safety for training and outreach programs that help emergency responders and local communities prepare for and respond to transportation emergencies involving hazardous materials.

The number of grant recipients receiving awards will depend on the grant program, as well as the quality and number of applications received, the dollar amounts requested, and funding availability.  Grant recipients are required to provide a report to PHMSA within one year chronicling completion of the work, as outlined in their grant agreement. 

To obtain full eligibility requirements and application instructions, please read each official notice of funding opportunity on  Applicants can also contact the appropriate agency representative identified in the respective notice of funding opportunity. 

Details about prior grant awards and related projects can be found on PHMSA’s grant webpage.

New PHMSA Deputy Administrator

On February 1, 2021, the Biden Administration named Tristan Brown as the new deputy administrator for PHMSA (replacing Drue Pierce).  He is also temporarily serving as acting administrator for PHMSA (replacing Skip Elliot).  Mr. Brown previously served in the offices of Senator Gary Peters and Senator Amy Klobuchar where he worked on issues related to transportation, energy, and the environment. From 2016-2017, he served as Deputy Associate Administrator for Congressional Affairs at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. As an attorney in private practice, Brown focused on matters related to the transportation and public utility sectors.

For those rusty on their government titles, Alan Mayberry is still Associate Administrator for the Office of Pipeline Safety.  Alan reports up the chain of command to Tristan, who eventually reports to the new Secretary of the Department of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg. 

Mega-Rule #1: Gas Transmission Regulation Deep Dive Virtual Workshop

RCP has been heavily involved throughout this rulemaking process and is ready to assist operators as they get prepared. Whether it’s a deep dive into MAOP records reconfirmation, conducting Engineering Critical Assessments, assessing where your Moderate Consequence Areas exist, developing Material Verification plans, reviewing existing pipeline integrity programs, developing action plans to get into compliance, or simply providing training to your team on what’s coming, RCP can help.


Join us for a virtual deep dive into the recently finalized Safety of Gas Transmission Pipelines rule. The virtual format for this is unlike anything you have experienced before. Once registered, attendees will receive links to workshop materials and will be able to review these materials at their own pace and schedule leading up to three separate live Q&A sessions with other attendees and the trainers. Attendees will have the ability to download copies of the materials, and chat and post questions in a live forum from the time they register until the live Q&A sessions with the trainers. There are practical exercises and knowledge reinforcement throughout the workshop to ensure attendees understand how to apply what they have learned. During the live Q&A sessions, trainers will work through these exercises and answer questions from the attendees.

What You Will Learn

There is a lot to unpack with this rule. This workshop will not only dive deep into the rule requirements and some of its nuances; there will also be several practical and interactive exercises for the audience to perform, ensuring they come away knowledgeable not only with “what” is required, but also “how” to conduct certain analyses that are new to the gas transmission pipeline regulations. These exercises will include how to conduct an Engineering Critical Assessment, how to calculate estimated remaining life of your pipelines, how to develop material sampling plans, how to determine TVC records and extract the required data for validated MAOP calculations, and how to plan and execute a spike test.

Workshop Materials

Each attendee will receive access to all presentation materials after registration, including the ability to download copies of the presentations for future reference or taking notes while progressing through the workshop. There are additional reference materials posted within the virtual workshop that can be downloaded, including related PHMSA Frequently Asked Questions, Federal Register Notices, and more.


  • February 1 through March 26, 2021
    • Registration Open
    • Registrants obtain access to workshop materials and proceed through this content at their own pace
  • March 4, 2021
    • Live Kick-Off Session with Trainers
  • April 6 – 8, 2021
    • Live Q&A Sessions with Trainers
    • Day 1: MAOP, Material Verification
    • Day 2: Engineering Critical Assessment, Calculating Remaining Life
    • Day 3: Integrity Outside HCAs, Changes to Integrity Programs, Spike Testing

About the Trainers

RCP trainers have a wealth of industry experience and provide participants a practical perspective on operations and maintenance activities at a level all can understand and are very effective in answering any questions.

Chris Foley, RCP
Mike Rosenfeld, RSI-Pipeline Solutions
Nathan Switzner, RSI-Pipeline Solutions
Nhan Pham, RCP
Joel Anderson, RSI-Pipeline Solutions

Mike Rosenfeld is an experienced consultant in pipeline fitness for service, pipeline integrity, pipeline design and construction, causes of pipeline failures, pipeline regulations and standards, and related matters. He has performed numerous pipeline failure investigations and root cause failure analyses; conducted research, funded by the pipeline industry, on the effects of mechanical damage, fatigue, pipeline integrity threat interactions, and methods to determine the probable grade of undocumented pipe materials; performed engineering analyses of a broad range of design, operations, or integrity matters for numerous pipeline operators; and provided expert support in litigation. He chairs the Subgroup on Design, Materials, and Construction of the ASME B31.8 Gas Transmission and Distribution Piping Committee and serves on other ASME piping standards development committees. Mr. Rosenfeld has authored or co-authored over 90 published articles or public presentations dating to 1988, is an ASME Fellow, and is a Professional Engineer registered in the State of Ohio. He previously worked with Kiefner & Associates (27 years), Battelle (6 years), and Impell Corporation (4 years). He earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the University of Michigan (1979) and a Master of Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University (1981).

Chris Foley has a deep understanding of the new gas transmission regulation, including participating on the Joint Industry Trade Association Task Group to prepare for and submit comments throughout the Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee process.  Mr. Foley owns three patents for MaxOp, which is widely considered the gold standard used across the gas and hazardous liquid pipeline industry for MAOP validation. He serves on the ANSI GPTC Z380 Gas Piping Technology Committee and the American Gas Association Engineering Committee.  Mr. Foley has almost 30 years’ experience developing and implementing engineering and regulatory compliance solutions and technology for the oil and gas industry. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering with a specialty in Systems Safety Engineering from Texas A&M University.

Virtual Workshop Pricing

$1,250 for registration prior to February 26
$1,350 for registration after February 26 and prior to March 4
$1,500 for registration after March 4

For more information or to register for this course click here.

2021 Conference News

TGA Transmission Roundtable
TGA is planning a virtual Transmission Roundtable on March 9, 2021. RCP’s Chris Foley will be speaking on one of the biggest topics for transmission operators, “NPRM Class Location Change Requirements.”

AGA Operations Conference & Biennial Exhibition in Orlando
AGA announced a change of dates for the 2021 AGA Operations Conference & Biennial Exhibition in Orlando. The dates have been changed from April 27-30 to October 5-8. The exhibition will continue to be held mid-week on Tuesday, October 5 and Wednesday, October 6. The 2020 Fall Committee meetings will be held in conjunction with the Conference & Exhibition on Monday, October 4 and Tuesday, October 5.

What makes RCP’s online training different?

Online Training Done Right! Check out our online training introduction video. Our online training has been built from the ground up to make the most use of the virtual learning environment. We’ve re-organized our training material into 5-10 minute* bite-sized topics, and made them all available in a format that allows students to take them in any order and at any time. Topics include a video presentation, as well as external reference links and thumbnails of the slides. At the close of each lesson we will have a short quiz. The class includes live Q&A sessions each day to address questions, work through example problems, and review the quizzes.

Students will have the ability to browse the material in the manner that best suits their learning style. They can choose to watch all the topic videos, click-through the slides to skip topics they already know, browse through the reference materials and links, or a combination of all those things. They can spend more time on topics of bigger interest and skip the ones they don’t need to review (a liquid transmission operator probably isn’t interested in gas distribution topics). A three-day in-person course can be done in three days online by watching the appropriate videos each morning and attending the live Q&A sessions in the afternoon. Or, students can review the online materials in advance as their schedule allows and just log on for the live Q&A sessions when scheduled.

While there is no substitute for in-person training, we have done our best to create the next-best thing for you Really Cool People. We hope you will agree, and here’s what past attendees are saying:

“The course was great. I really think that the course setup is helpful for comprehending the information. The biggest benefit is having “homework” and being able to look back at the information to help solidify the learning. I would recommend this layout for information delivery in the future with more “homework” and videos walking through the results.”

“I appreciated the visuals accompanied by an explanation, especially with the mouse pointer to guide where to look/which section was being explained.”

“The presentation was great – at a good pace and with enough background that I understood what he was presenting.  Thank you.”

“I liked all of the details that Nathan provided. I learned a lot about the different types of testing for each of the properties. I knew generally what was available before but now I have a lot more knowledge. This will be helpful when sourcing vendors for material testing.”

*Truth in advertising – some of the recorded topics are 40 minutes.  It must be true that the older people are, the more long-winded they become.  But it’s all good.  Honest! 

We would welcome the opportunity to discuss our services with you.


Bill Byrd signature
W. R. (Bill) Byrd, PE
RCP Inc.