DOT Pipeline Compliance News

May 2020 Issue

In This Issue

PHMSA NPRM Regulatory Reform for Hazardous Liquid Pipelines

[Docket No. PHMSA-2018-0047]

PHMSA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the “Regulatory Reform for Hazardous Liquid Pipelines.” PHMSA is soliciting public comments on proposed amendments to 49 CFR 190, 194, and 195 for the safety of hazardous liquid pipelines that would revise the requirements for facility response plans, revise the definition for accidents, and consider repealing, replacing, or modifying other specific regulations. The intent of these changes is to reduce regulatory burdens and improve regulatory clarity without compromising safety and environmental protection.

The proposed amendments in this rulemaking also include regulatory relief actions identified by internal agency review, petitions for rulemaking, and public comments on DOT’s regulatory reform and infrastructure notices titled, “Transportation Infrastructure: Notice of Review of Policy, Guidance, and Regulation” (82 FR 26734; June 8, 2017), and “Notification of Regulatory Review” (82 FR 45750; Oct. 2, 2017).

Submit comments by June 15, 2020, identified by Docket No. PHMSA-2018-0047, on the Federal eRulemaking Portal. For a copy of the NPRM for Regulatory Reform for Hazardous Liquid Pipelines, contact Jessica Foley.

PHMSA Notice Stay of Enforcement to Gas Pipeline Operators Affected by COVID-19

PHMSA announced they will not enforce provisions of the recently finalized gas transmission rule for certain items that were due to be implemented on July 1, 2020.  They will extend this July 1 deadline to December 31, 2020 (this is good news for all of you Really Cool People!).  According to PHMSA’s FAQ-1, the following requirements were to be implemented by July 1st:

  1. Prepare and follow procedures per the Final Rule*
  2. Begin to identify, schedule (according to a risk-based prioritization), and perform assessments required by § 192.710.

The deadline extension does not include additional information collection for incidents and the annual gas transmission and gathering report.

* The final rule affects procedures related to sections 191.23, 191.25, 192.3, 192.5, 192.7, 192.9, 192.18, 192.67, 192.127, 192.150, 192.205, 192.493, 192.506, 192.517, 192.607, 192.619, 192.710, 192.712, 192.805, 192.909, 192.917, 192.921, 192.933, 192.935, 192.937, 192.939, and Appendix F to Part 192.  Operators would be well advised to work on these procedure revisions NOW, because December will be here before you know it.  RCP, as always, is ready to help. 


[Docket No. PHMSA-2019-0131]

PHMSA is preparing to update its FAQs for gas farm taps. PHMSA has published a series of new FAQs to replace the current FAQ (C.3.7) concerning farm taps. The current FAQs can be reviewed on the PHMSA Gas Distribution Integrity Management webpage.

The new FAQs will be available for public comment until June 19, 2020. There are 20 new FAQs covering the following topics:

  • Exercise of Enforcement Discretion
  • Applicability
  • Reporting
  • O&M Requirements
  • Source of Supply and Local Distribution Company Operations
  • Regulator Testing
  • Exemptions
  • Other Part 192 Requirements
  • Local Agreement Consumers

These proposed FAQs clarify that a farm tap is a service line that begins at the first point of isolation from the production, gathering or transmission line and ends at the outlet of the customer’s meter or the connection to the customer’s piping. An applicability flowchart is included in one of the FAQs. The FAQs also identify the distribution pipeline requirements to which the service line owner must comply. These requirements include O&M, Operator Qualification, Reporting and Pipeline Testing. There are a couple of FAQs concerning scenarios where the source piping is not PHMSA regulated and asked if the service line would be PHMSA regulated. In each case the service line would be regulated as a distribution line.

Comments can be submitted via the E-Gov Web portal. Identify the Docket No. PHMSA–2019–0131 at the beginning of your comments. For a copy of the Federal Register Notice, contact Jessica Foley.

COE Nationwide Permit Injunction / Directive

On April 15, a federal court in the District of Montana vacated the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (COE) Nationwide Permit (NWP) 12 and remanded it to the COE for reconsideration in compliance with the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The court also enjoined the COE from authorizing any dredge or fill activities under NWP 12 pending completion of the necessary consultation process required by the ESA.  NWP 12 authorizes discharges that result in the loss of up to 1/2 acre of waters of the U.S.  Discharges resulting in the loss of less than 1/10 acre can be self-certified by the permittee without any notification to the COE, while discharges of more than 1/10 acre require the submission of a pre-construction notification (PCN) to the COE for verification of applicability.

Recognizing the need for clarity and direction in the immediate aftermath of the court’s decision, COE Headquarters issued an e-mail directive to the chiefs of all Regulatory Districts indicating that the COE is still reviewing the order to determine its next steps, but “out of an abundance of caution, effective immediately, Corps Districts should not verify any pending PCNs for compliance with NWP 12 under 33 C.F.R. 330.6 until further direction from this office is issued.” 

These events raise a plethora of questions regarding new and existing projects that are being or would have been conducted under NWP 12 – including many pipeline projects.  We thank our friends at Locke Lord for summarizing the situation in more detail in their QuickStudy article.

Updated COS-2-03 Requirements for 3rd Party SEMS Auditing, 2nd Edition

The Center for Offshore Safety (COS) has issued a new edition of COS-2-03, “Requirements for Third-Party SEMS Auditing,” Second Edition, and three additional guidance documents: COS-1-06, “Guidance for Developing a SEMS Audit Plan”; COS-1-07, “Guidance for Developing a SEMS Corrective Action Plan”; and, COS-1-08, “SEMS Audit Report Format and Guidance.”

It is important to understand that COS-2-03, First Edition is incorporated by reference into BSEE’s Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS) regulation [30 CFR 250, Subpart S]. BSEE supports the new edition and the new guidance documents but is not yet incorporating them into the regulations. However, BSEE will use these COS documents as guidance in its review of audits and corrective action plans in addition to its own auditing activities. These new documents provide an excellent and practical approach to planning, conducting, documenting and addressing audit findings.

RCP helps its clients prepare for regulatory audits as well as conducts third-party audits of regulatory compliance and safety management conformance and maturity for the pipeline industry. RCP also helps clients build audit and assessment programs for the clients’ internal processes. If you would like help in developing your own audit program using industry standard audit processes, having your processes audited or have questions about auditing, contact Jessica Foley.

Correction: Pennsylvania Damage Prevention Rule Change – Date

It was brought to our attention that the Pennsylvania Damage Prevention Rule Change that we published in the April DOT Compliance newsletter was correct . . . except for the date. There was a glitch with our regulatory monitoring service which sends us daily notices of changes at the federal and state level and it incorrectly indicated that the rule changed in March.  But, no.  The Pennsylvania change happened 2 years ago.  Apologies for the error. 

PHMSA Report on Staffing and Hiring

PHMSA has provided a report to Congress on PHMSA’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 staffing and hiring plans and actual turnover and hiring in FY 2019 for the Office of Pipeline Safety.  Per the report, PHMSA continues to work towards its full employment goal of 308 Pipeline Safety personnel. As of September 30, 2019, the Office of Pipeline Safety had 288 (93 percent) of its positions filled. Of the 288 persons onboard, 143 were inspectors (about half).  Of the 21 vacancies, 12 were inspector positions (again, about half). While PHMSA is successful in recruiting and hiring, it continues to be challenged with employee retention. In total, PHMSA lost a net of 9 (23 hires less 32 separations) pipeline safety employees, for an 11.1% turnover rate. This rate is largely attributed to the robust energy industry. Growth in this industry has created job openings for pipeline and energy systems engineers in both the private and public sectors, resulting in a shortage of qualified applicants. 

Editor’s note:  I suspect that the current energy glut will largely resolve PHMSA’s recruiting and retention problems. 

RCP’s 25th Anniversary Challenge

Every month between March 2020 and February 2021, RCP will be giving away a 25th Anniversary Prize to a lucky reader of the DOT Pipeline Compliance Newsletter. All you have to do is find the hidden phrase “Really Cool People” within an article in that month’s newsletter and send an e-mail with the title of the article to The 25th correct entry submission each month will win your choice of an RCP 25th anniversary engraved bottle of single-barrel Jack Daniels or RCP’s 25th anniversary gift box.  Decisions, decisions….

Game Rules & Exclusions:

  1. You must be a current DOT Pipeline Compliance Newsletter subscriber.
  2. One entry per person each month. 
  3. You must be 21 or older to receive the Jack Daniels, and must make arrangements to have it picked up at the RCP office in Downtown Houston. No shipping.
  4. Offer void where prohibited – either by law or by your company’s policies! 
  5. The 25th correct entry will be determined by the time stamps on the e-mails as received by Heather. 
  6. Heather doesn’t accept bribes. 

Congratulations to Linda Abbott of the City of Mesa, Arizona for winning the 25th Anniversary Challenge for April!

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


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