DOT Pipeline Compliance News

July 2023 Issue

In This Issue

PHMSA Posts Voluntary PSMS Reporting Form

PHMSA has posted a report form for gas distribution pipeline operators to submit that describes their progress on implementation of API 1173, Pipeline Safety Management Systems.   Submittal of this form is voluntary and not a regulatory requirement for gas distribution operators.  PHMSA is required to collect this data to comply with Sec. 205. Pipeline safety management systems in the PIPES ACT 2020. The form and the instructions can be accessed with these links: Form or Instructions

RCP has been involved in the development and implementation of pipeline safety management systems as well as evaluating the performance and maturity of safety management systems for its clients. If your organization is just starting to think about implementation or is at some point in the implementation process, RCP has the experts that can assist you. If your organization would like to have a third-party evaluation of your safety management system, RCP has the auditors and assessors that perform those evaluations. For additional information please contact Jessica Foley.

PHMSA Gas Leak Detection and Repair Comment Extension

[Docket No. PHMSA-2021-0039]

The deadline to submit comments in response to PHMSA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Pipeline Safety: Gas Pipeline Leak Detection and Repair, which was published in the Federal Register Volume 88, Number 96, on Thursday May 18, 2023, must be filed by August 16, 2023 (See related article in the May 2023 Edition of the DOT Pipeline Compliance Newsletter.). The originally published closing date for comments was July 17, but PHMSA has extended the period an additional thirty days. Comments may be filed on the E-Gov website identified by the Docket No. PHMSA-2021-0039.

Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission Updates

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission filed several updates to their state pipeline regulations on May 24, 2023.  More specifically, under Title 170, Article 5 Gas Utilities, Rule 3. Minimum Safety Standards for the Transportation of Gas, Hazardous Liquids, Carbon Dioxide Fluids, and Related Pipeline Facilities, the following items were addressed:

  • Recordkeeping related to pressure testing and MAOP.
  • Low pressure distribution system configuration requirements related to relief valves and automatic shutoff devices near regulator stations.
  • Pressure testing requirements.
  • Uprating requirements.
  • Operations, Maintenance and Emergency Response Plan requirements.
  • Leakage survey requirements.
  • Operator Qualification requirements.
  • Electrical isolation requirements.
  • Mapping requirements.
  • Reporting requirements.
  • Enforcement process clarifications.

If you are an operator affected by these changes, contact Jessica Foley to discuss how RCP can assist with updating your compliance and integrity programs.

Texas Railroad Commission Public Hearing on Proposed Amendments to Chapter 5 (CO2) Rules

The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) will host a public comment hearing on the proposed amendments to Chapter 5, relating to Carbon Dioxide (CO2), which are part of the RRC’s ongoing application to the United States Environmental Protection Agency for enforcement primacy of the Class VI Underground Injection Control Program. To view the proposed rules, visit the RRC website under “Chapter 5. Carbon Dioxide – Various Rules.”

The first part of the hearing will consist of a brief overview by RRC staff regarding the proposed rule amendments. The second part of the hearing will consist of public comment on the proposed rule amendments.

The hearing will be held virtually from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. on Wednesday, July 19, 2023. It can be viewed via live webcast on the AdminMonitor website. To view additional information on the hearing and instructions on presenting public comments at the hearing, click here.

Texas Railroad Commission O&G Monitoring and Enforcement Plan

The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) commissioners approved the agency’s Oil and Gas Monitoring Plan for Fiscal Year 2024. The new plan includes goals to accurately demonstrate the Commission ’s oil and gas monitoring and enforcement activities and to strategically use the oil and gas monitoring and enforcement resources. It focuses on developing a framework to describe the totality of oil and gas monitoring and enforcement efforts, beyond inspections and remediation work the agency does, which would include the extensive work that is done involving technical permit monitoring and administrative compliance enforcement.

Part of the Commission’s most recent goals are to use data from inspections, enforcement, and compliance to improve our information management systems so that they are more user-friendly for operators. That work will continue in the next fiscal year to help increase efficiency for both RRC staff and oil and gas operators.

The Fiscal Year 2024 Oil and Gas Monitoring and Enforcement Plan can be found at this link: click here.

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 May 2023, PHMSA issued 4 NOAs, 13 NOPVs, and 3 WLs accompanied by $2,680,792 in proposed fines. Significant proposed fines were attributed to the following code sections:

  • $75,200 – 49 CFR 192.605(a) – Procedure Manual
  • $342,800 – 49 CFR 193.2441(c) – Control Center
  • $37,900 – 49 CFR 194.7(b) – Operating Restrictions
  • $218,647 – 49 CFR 195.401(a) – General Requirements
  • $547,794 – 49 CFR 195.402(a) – Procedure Manual
  • $40,500 – 49 CFR 195.403(c) – Emergency Response Training
  • $39,400 – 49 CFR 195.432(b) – Breakout Tank Inspections
  • $222,504 – 49 CFR 195.446(a) – Control Room Management
  • $218,647 – 49 CFR 195.452(b)(5) – Integrity Management
  • $53,900 – 49 CFR 195.452(l)(1) – Integrity Management
  • $39,800 – 49 CFR 195.505(i) – Operator Qualification
  • $39,400 – 49 CFR 195.52(a)(3) – Immediate Notice of Accidents
  • $804,300 – 49 CFR 195.579(a) – Mitigating Internal Corrosion

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.

Don’t Forget State Enforcement Actions!

Pipeline operators and excavators in Texas were fined $329,244 for violating the Texas Railroad Commission’s Pipeline Damage Prevention rules. Visit the RRC General Counsel webpage for more information on the violations and corresponding penalties.

Q&A Section

Do you have questions? RCP’s SMEs have the answers. Information will be posted here for questions we often get from clients or discussions we have with regulators, including interpretations and pending regulatory deadlines.

Q:  I am replacing pipeline segments by installing new pipe in a pipe rack to allow for a major highway reconstruction. If I have the pipeline segments welded in a shop, installed in a new pipe rack and then delivered to the site, does the welding have to be done by an OQ qualified welder or is certified welder sufficient?

A:  PHMSA regulations related to retention of records of materials, construction and testing of any regulated pipeline segments regardless of where the work is actually completed, in a shop or in the field, are required. The welder would have to be qualified in accordance with a qualified welding procedure applicable to the materials and those records must be retained as well.

Ask the Experts

Do you have a question for the experts at RCP?  Submit your question using this form. If your question is selected for a future newsletter, you will be eligible for a gift of your choice from RCP’s online Store.

Upcoming Deadlines:

  • The deadline to submit comments in response to PHMSA’s NPRM: Pipeline Safety: Gas Pipeline Leak Detection and Repair must be filed by August 16, 2023. The originally published closing date for comments was July 17, but PHMSA has extended the period an additional thirty days. Comments may be filed at Docket No. PHMSA-2021-0039.
  • And as a reminder, the “Stay of Enforcement” does not mean regulators don’t expect work toward getting compliance activities in place can be ignored.

If we can help, contact Jessica Foley.

Did you know?

DID YOU KNOW? About the Furnace Rule…

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has proposed a rule, known as the Furnace Rule, that would ban the sale of non-condensing furnaces found in millions of American homes.

  • Two main types of natural gas furnace technology exist: condensing and non-condensing.  Swapping one technology for the other is not a one-for-one replacement.
  • If the Furnace Rule is finalized, Americans will either have to pay expensive retrofits to replace their non-condensing furnace, if even possible, or be forced to switch to an electric furnace.
  • About half of the country chooses to heat their homes with clean, resilient, and efficient natural gas. DOE’s proposed Furnace Rule removes consumer choice and will cost homeowners thousands of dollars.
  • The establishment of separate product classes, which APGA has petitioned DOE to establish, would allow DOE to set appropriate minimum efficiency standards for the different furnace technologies and ensure that consumers can continue to choose the appliance that best fits their needs, home, and budget.
  • APGA submitted extensive comments opposing the Furnace Rule and joined a broad coalition of trade associations and appliance manufacturers that also asked DOE to withdraw the rule.  
  • It is crucial for all stakeholders impacted by this rule, including APGA members and their communities, to continue voicing their concerns to their elected representatives and DOE.
  • APGA will be evaluating potential next steps when DOE releases a final rule, which is anticipated by Fall 2023.

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


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