DOT Pipeline Compliance News

February 2022 Issue

In This Issue

PHMSA Informational Webinar: Inspection of Operators’ Plans to Eliminate Hazardous Leaks, Minimize Releases of Methane, and Remediate or Replace Leak-Prone Pipe

PHMSA announced a public informational webinar (Virtual) on the scope of Section 114 of the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2020 (PIPES Act of 2020).  The webinar will also cover PHMSA and state inspection plans to ensure compliance of operators’ inspection and maintenance procedures to eliminate hazardous leaks, minimizes releases of methane (the predominant component of natural gas), and the replacement or remediation of facilities known to leak.

This virtual webinar will be held on February 17, 2022, from 10:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. (ET). Members of the public who wish to attend this webinar must register no later than February 11, 2022. The agenda and instructions on how to attend are on the meeting website. Presentations from the informational public webinar will be available on the meeting website no later than 5 business days following the webinar.

Pipeline Safety Enhancement Programs

[Docket No. PHMSA-2022-0004]

On January 28, 2022, PHMSA published its requirements for operators to apply for Pipeline Safety Enhancement Programs (PSEPs). PSEPs were established by Section 104 of the PIPES Act of 2020 to allow operators and PHMSA to evaluate innovative technologies and operational practices, providing more robust protection of public safety and the environment than the existing pipeline safety regulations (PSR) governing natural gas and HL pipeline facilities. Each PSEP must incorporate innovative safety technologies and operational practices improving the reliability, accuracy, durability, or certainty of pipeline safety technologies, techniques, or methods. Safety measures for a proposed PSEP must be designed to achieve, and will be evaluated by PHMSA to ensure, a level of safety that is greater than the level of safety required by either 49 CFR part 192 for natural gas pipelines or 49 CFR part 195 for HL pipelines, as applicable. This standard exceeds the minimum level of safety that is required for issuance of a special permit, as described in 49 CFR 190.341(d)(2). PHMSA will only waive safety regulations in either 49 CFR part 192 or part 195 that would otherwise prevent the use of the safety technology or operational practice to be tested.

Pipeline owners and operators (collectively, operators) may only apply for a PSEP through December 21, 2023. A PSEP shall not exceed a duration of three (3) years after the approval date. Pipeline facilities located in, or which could affect, HCAs and USAs are prohibited from PSEPs. The amount and percentage of an operator’s regulated pipeline mileage in a PSEP is also limited (lesser of 1,000 miles or 38%).

Applications must identify the specific provisions of the PSR for which a waiver is sought and describe the safety technology or operational practice that the applicant is proposing, including any research and development program that the technology or operational practice underwent. PSEP applications must include maps and a draft environmental assessment (DEA) in accordance with 49 CFR 190.341(c)(8), and must provide an analysis, consistent with principles set forth in DOT Order 5610.2C, of whether the proposed action will have disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on minority and low-income populations. Such analysis must include demographic information about the community within a half-mile vicinity on each side of the pipeline and past the pipeline endpoints of the relevant site(s). The applicant must use the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Justice mapping and screening tool called EJSCREEN for its environmental justice analysis. PHMSA will provide, on request, an example environmental assessment, a template, and the environmental justice information requirements for applicants to use in generating and submitting a DEA.

Applications must describe each operator’s safety management system (SMS) for all its 49 CFR part 192 and 49 CFR part 195 regulated pipelines. Identify the SMS procedures that would be applicable to the PSEP to include any processes and procedures that provide a framework to disclose and manage risk, promote a learning environment, and continuously improve pipeline safety and integrity. Applications must also include the accident and incident record of the operator for the past 10 years.

PHMSA will review each DEA to ensure it complies with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and will analyze applications for potential risks to public safety and impacts to the environment. Prior to PHMSA approving each PSEP application, PHMSA will publish a notice in the Federal Register and solicit comments on the PSEP application. PHMSA will assign a docket number in the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) located at for each PSEP application. The docket will include the Federal Register notice alerting the public of the application and will include all other pertinent documents for public review, including public comments. The comment period will be for a minimum of 90 days for each PSEP application. Comments received after the closing date will be evaluated if it is possible to do so without incurring additional expense or delay. PHMSA will publish its decision on whether to grant or deny the proposed PSEP application in the docket for that application. PHMSA may, in granting a PSEP application, impose such conditions as PHMSA determines are appropriate. The effective date of a PSEP will not be made retroactive to a date preceding the publication date of PHMSA’s decision.

Operators must submit to PHMSA detailed findings and an annual report with a summary of data collected as a result of participation in the PSEP. PHMSA will make the annual report for each ongoing testing program available to the public on PHMSA’s website (at and in the corresponding FDMS located at

PHMSA shall immediately revoke a PSEP in some situations, and such revocations will not be subject to the “show cause” process for special permits set forth in 49 CFR 190.341(j)(2). PHMSA may, in the event of a violation of a PSEP’s terms and conditions, pursue enforcement action as contemplated by 49 CFR 190.341(m).

PHMSA will submit a report to Congress at the conclusion of each PSEP and make those reports available to the public on PHMSA’s website. PHMSA may subsequently undertake rulemakings to revise the PSR to accommodate promising technological and operational practices evaluated in PSEPs.


EPA Finalizes the 2022 Construction General Permit (CGP)

On January 18, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the 2022 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Construction General Permit (2022 CGP) for stormwater discharges from construction activity. The 2022 CGP will become effective on February 17, 2022, replacing the 2017 CGP, which expires on February 16, 2022. This permit covers stormwater discharges from construction activities in areas where EPA is the NPDES permitting authority. New construction projects in these areas may submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) for coverage under the permit once it is effective.

Key changes in the permit include new or clarified provisions related to erosion and pollution prevention controls, dewatering discharges, turbidity benchmark monitoring for dewatering discharges to sensitive waters, and inspection training. For more information, visit EPA’s Construction Stormwater website.

EPA will host a webinar on February 24, 2022, at 1:00 PM (EST) to provide an overview of the 2022 CGP and an opportunity for participants to ask questions. Click here to register.

For any questions related to this announcement, please contact

Client Feedback

RCP has a tradition of creating and sustaining trusted partnerships with the companies we serve. This has translated into long-term relationships that are based not only on the quality and scope of the work we provide, but also on the manner in which we provide it. We routinely hear from our clients with positive feedback like this quote below:

“As always, thank you for providing direction and clarity.  Your insights are appreciated more than I can state. Your team is invaluable!”

New Mexico Proposed ONE-CALL Revisions

[Case No. 21-00224-PL]

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (the “commission”) is considering amendments to sections of Rule 18.60.5 NMAC “Pipeline Safety Excavation Damage Prevention.”  The Rule as it currently stands requires requests to locate pipelines to be completed exactly within 48 hours on the second business day from the time when the request was submitted by an excavator. The proposed revised rule would require requests to locate utility lines to be completed by midnight on the second business day after the request, rather than the specific time of the request submission.

A copy of the full text of the proposed rule and instructions for accessing the complete rulemaking record can be obtained from the rulemaking page on the commission’s website;

or, by calling Isaac Sullivan-Leshin of the commission’s office of general counsel at (505) 670-4830.

Written comments shall be filed no later than March 15, 2022 and written response comments shall be filed no later than March 29, 2022. Comments can be electronically filed by sending them in PDF format to Comments shall refer to Case No. 21-00224-PL. All written comments will be posted on the commission’s website within three days of their receipt by the records bureau.

A public hearing will be held on April 5, 2022, beginning at 2:00 p.m. via the Zoom platform.  The record closure date for this proceeding is April 19, 2022.

Nevada Proposes New Gas Pipeline Engineering Work Requiring Professional Engineer License

Chapter 703 [LCB File No. R073-21]

The Nevada Public Utility Commission has proposed new rules that would require any gas pipeline engineering plans or specifications for engineering work or services to be performed by or under the supervision of a Professional Engineer. The following types of work and services involving a gas pipeline facility that would require a Professional Engineer include:

  1. New installation of district pressure regulator stations, compressor stations or gate stations.
  2. Reconfiguration or physical facility changes, other than routine operating adjustments and like-kind replacements, performed at district pressure regulator stations, compressor stations or gate stations that alter or modify the configuration or overpressure protection of equipment.
  3. Installation, uprating, repair by replacement or abandonment of transmission pipelines.
  4. Installation, repair by replacement or abandonment of high-pressure distribution pipelines operating at 200 pound-force per square inch gauge and above and with a project length of 3,000 feet or greater of installed, replaced or abandoned distribution pipeline.
  5. Installation of distribution mains where such distribution mains attach to existing bridges or other engineered structures, except for newly designed or constructed bridges where the pipeline installation design was approved by the public agency undertaking the design or construction of the bridge.
  6. Uprating of distribution pipelines.
  7. Installation of a peak shaving facility, including any modification or reconfiguration that would alter such a facility’s pressure delivery characteristics.
  8. Installation of new permanent in-line inspection launchers and receivers.

Free Webinar: Unpacking the New Gas Gathering Rule

In this free webinar, the Pipeline Safety Institute will unpack the new gas gathering final rule that becomes effective on May 16, 2022. PHMSA estimates approximately 425,000 miles of previously exempt gas gathering lines will now be regulated as either Type C or Type R regulated gas gathering pipelines.

The webinar will include useful information on how to determine whether a pipeline is classified as a Type A, B, C or R gas gathering line and will walk through what sections of Parts 191 and 192 apply to these newly regulated pipelines.  Attendees will come away with a thorough understanding of the new requirements and what they would need to do to prepare for implementation.  

To register for this free webinar, click here.  The webinar schedule is as follow:

February 17, 2022 (Thursday):    1-2 p.m. CST

The Enforcement Corner

The Enforcement Corner summarizes recent PHMSA enforcement actions, indicating where PHMSA is putting its enforcement efforts and the fines they are proposing for various types of violations.

In December 2021, PHMSA issued 1 NOA and 1 NOPV with no proposed penalties at this time.

Please note:

  1. Pipeline operators may disagree in whole or in part with each proposed violation cited by PHMSA. 
  2. Proposed Civil Penalties (PCP) may be reduced or eliminated before an enforcement action becomes final.
  3. A Corrective Action Order (CAO) usually addresses urgent situations arising out of an accident, spill, or other significant, immediate, or imminent safety or environmental concern.
  4. A Notice of Amendment (NOA) is frequently a result of a difference of opinion regarding written procedure requirements.
  5. A Notice of Proposed Safety Order (NOPSO) addresses pipeline integrity risks that may not constitute a hazardous facility requiring immediate corrective action (see Corrective Action Order described above),but do need to be addressed over time.
  6. A Notice of Probable Violation (NOPV) is not proof that a violation actually occurred.
  7. A Proposed Compliance Order (PCO) frequently documents actions the pipeline operator already planned to do.
  8. Warning Letter (WL) is an official notice by PHMSA that an operator needs to make improvements but that no further enforcement is proposed for those findings at this time.

RCP maintains a detailed database of all PHMSA enforcement actions dating back to 2007 and is routinely asked for data analysis of various enforcement actions. For more information on how RCP can assist with enforcement action data analysis services, contact Jessica Foley.

Need to respond to a PHMSA enforcement action?
Need to know if your enforcement action is an outlier, or par for the course? 

RCP maintains a detailed database of all PHMSA enforcement actions and their resolution which enables us to compare and contrast individual enforcement actions to nationwide actions and trends.  We can help put things into context to ensure an effective reply for each citation.  For more information on how RCP can assist with enforcement action data analysis services, contact Jessica Foley.

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


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