DOT Pipeline Compliance News

June 2020 Issue

In This Issue

PHMSA Proposed Rule – Gas Pipeline Regulatory Reform

[Docket No. PHMSA-2018-0046]

PHMSA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that contains a variety of misc. modifications to the existing gas pipeline regulations in 49 CFR 191 and 192. The proposed rule changes are intended to ease regulatory burdens on the construction, maintenance and operation of gas transmission, distribution, and gathering pipeline systems. PHMSA expects the NPRM to be published in the Federal Register on June 9th. The proposed changes include:

  • Provide flexibility in the inspection requirements for farm taps;
  • Repeal distribution integrity management program (DIMP) requirements for master meter operators;
  • Repeal submission requirements for the mechanical fitting failure (MFF) reports (but retain annual reports);
  • Adjust the monetary damage threshold for reporting incidents for inflation (but not change any other reporting criteria);
  • Allow remote monitoring of rectifier stations;
  • Revise the inspection interval for monitoring atmospheric corrosion on gas distribution service pipelines from 3 to 5 years;
  • Update the design factor for polyethylene (PE) pipe from 0.32 to 0.40 and raise the maximum diameter limit;
  • Revise test requirements for pressure vessels from 1.5 to 1.3, to be consistent with American Society of Mechanical Engineers Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code (ASME BPVC);
  • Revise welder requalification requirements from 6 months to 7.5 months to be consistent with API 1104; and
  • Extend the allowance for pre-tested short segments of pipe and fabricated units to pipelines operating at a hoop stress less than 30 percent of the specified minimum yield strength (SMYS) and above 100 pounds per square inch (psi).

Comments are due by August 10th and can be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Include Docket No. PHMSA-2018-0046 when submitting comments.

Editor’s note to all you Really Cool People:  These proposed changes appear to be tweaking existing requirements – many of which are to align the regulations with current technology and standards. 

For a copy of this NPRM, contact Jessica Foley.

EPA Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule

[Docket No. EPA-HQ-OW-2019-0405]

On June 1, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the “Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule” to update and clarify the substantive and procedural requirements for water quality certification under Clean Water Act (CWA or the Act) section 401. CWA section 401 is a direct grant of authority to States (and Tribes that have been approved for “treatment as a State” status) to review for compliance with appropriate federal, State, and Tribal water quality requirements any discharge into a water of the United States that may result from a proposed activity that requires a federal license or permit. This final rule is intended to increase the predictability and timeliness of CWA section 401 certification actions by clarifying timeframes for certification, the scope of certification review and conditions, and related certification requirements and procedures.  It is of particular importance to pipeline developers who require state or tribal certification of water quality impacts for pipeline construction.

The rule will be effective 60 days after date of publication in the Federal Register. A pre-publication version of the Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule, FAQs, and info on the Public Webinar scheduled for June 17th, can be found on the EPA’s website.

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