DOT Pipeline Compliance News

September 2022 Issue

In This Issue

PHMSA Pipeline Safety: Information Collection of API RP 1173 for Gas Distribution Systems

[Docket No. PHMSA–2022–0060]

The PIPES Act contains a provision for PHMSA to prepare a report for Congress on the status of the implementation of safety management systems in the gas distribution industry. PHMSA is proposing to conduct a one-time information request of gas distribution operators whether they are implementing safety management systems. PHMSA is requesting comments on their proposed survey format and questions. Comments are to be submitted by November 7, 2022, to the E-Gov Website at and include the docket number, PHMSA–2022–0060. The information request will be finalized in 2023 and conducted to meet the December 2023 deadline for the report to Congress.

PHPMSA is proposing that the information request would be submitted through the PHMSA Portal in a manner similar to submitting other reports. The information request is based on the ten-element format of the API Recommended Practice 1173. PHMSA recognizes that gas distribution operators may have safety management systems that are different or are based on other standards. In those cases, PHMSA asks that the gas distribution operator to respond as best fits their safety management program elements.

The bulk of the information request questions are fill in the blank by the operator or are a selection from a picklist. There are some spots for explanation of responses, but they are currently expected to be limited to 100 characters.

The information request asks if the gas distribution operator is or is not implementing a safety management system and if not, why they are not. PHMSA is interested in knowing how the operator became aware of pipeline safety management systems, in particular API RP 1173. If the operator is in the process of implementation, PHMSA would like to know the status of the implementation and when full implementation is expected. PHMSA is interested in how much time and money has been spent by safety management system element in the implementation effort and which of the elements was most difficult to implement. For implemented systems, PHMSA is also asking if the safety management system has been evaluated and, if so, by whom.

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 your implementation, 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 NPRM for Periodic Standards Update and Miscellaneous Changes

On August 29th, PHMSA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to incorporate by reference 28 updated industry standards and make several non-substantive edits and clarifications to certain other provisions of Parts 191, 192 and 195.  PHMSA incorporates more than 80 consensus standards by reference into the pipeline safety regulations, many of which become outdated over time as new editions become available. There are, however, many updated standards available that PHMSA has not incorporated.  For example, the 2004 edition of ASME B31.8S is still incorporated by reference under §192.7 instead of the more recent 2020 edition.

Most of the non-substantive edits are corrections of typos or incorrect code references.  PHMSA is proposing to add a new Appendix G Guidance on Moderate Consequence Areas to Part 192 to provide guidance on moderate consequence areas that is currently provided by the FHWA’s Highway Functional Classifications Concepts, Criteria and Procedures document. The proposed appendix G includes guidance relevant to the terms ‘‘Designated Interstate,’’ ‘‘Freeway,’’ ‘‘Expressway,’’ and ‘‘Principal Arterial Roadway,’’ which appear in the definition of a moderate consequence area. The proposed appendix repeats the information from this document verbatim. PHMSA does not propose to make any substantive change to the definition of a moderate consequence area.

For a copy of this NPRM, contact Jessica Foley.

TRRC Accepting Public Comment on Critical Designation of Natural Gas Infrastructure Rule

The Texas Railroad Commission (TRRC) is accepting public comment on proposed amendments to 16 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §3.65, relating to Critical Designation of Natural Gas Infrastructure. The proposed rule amendments simplify the rule language and process for designating certain natural gas facilities and entities critical during energy emergencies as specified in House Bill 3648 and Senate Bill 3 (87th Legislature, Regular Session)

  • 16 TAC §3.65(a) — Provide more certainty regarding the definition of “energy emergency”
  • 16 TAC §3.65(b)(1) — Amend the list of critical gas suppliers
  • 16 TAC §3.65(c), (e) and (f) — Revise requirements triggered by a critical gas supplier’s inclusion on the electricity supply chain map produced by the Texas Electricity Supply Chain Security and Mapping Committee

To view the proposed rule amendments and submit comments online by 5 p.m. on Friday, October 7, 2022, visit the TRRC website under “Chapter 3: Oil and Gas.”

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 July 2022, PHMSA issued 3 WLs, 2 NOAs, and 5 NOPVs accompanied by $2,156,100 in proposed fines. Significant proposed fines were attributed to the following code sections:

  • $31,400 – 49 CFR 195.555 – Supervisor Qualifications
  • $46,600 – 49 CFR 192.619(a)(3) – Maximum Allowable Operating Pressure
  • $362,800 – 49 CFR 192.917(a)(1) – Threat Identification
  • $425,000 – 49 CFR 192.937(c)(1) – Pipeline Assessment: In-Line Inspections
  • $36,600 – 49 CFR 194.107(c)(1)(viii) – Response Plans: Equipment Testing
  • $141,300 – 49 CFR 195.310(a) – Pressure Test Records
  • $81,500 – 49 CFR 195.402(a) – Procedure Manual
  • $36,600 – 49 CFR 195.402(c)(13) – Procedures: Reviewing Work Performed
  • $36,600 – 49 CFR 195.402(d)(5) – Procedures: Abnormal Operations Review
  • $64,600 – 49 CFR 195.405(a) – Breakout Tanks: Ignition Protection
  • $122,600 – 49 CFR 195.430(a) – Firefighting Equipment
  • $310,000 – 49 CFR 195.432(b) – Breakout Tank Inspections
  • $31,400 – 49 CFR 195.452(i)(1) – IMP: Consequence Mitigation
  • $64,600 – 49 CFR 195.452(l)(1) – IMP: Pipeline Records
  • $263,000 – 49 CFR 195.573(d) – Breakout Tanks: CP Inspections
  • $81,500 – 49 CFR 195.753(e) – External Corrosion Control
  • $20,000 – 49 CFR 195.589(a)(2) – Cathodic Protection Records

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.

Did you know?

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


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