In This Issue

PHMSA’s Response to AGA’s RIN 2 Petition

PHMSA has formally responded to AGA’s Petition for Reconsideration regarding the Transmission Mega Rule RIN 2. On September 23, 2022, the American Gas Association (AGA) submitted a letter to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) petitioning the agency for reconsideration of the final rule titled “Pipeline Safety: Safety of Gas Transmission Pipelines: Repair Criteria, Integrity Management Improvements, Cathodic Protection, Management of Change, and Other Related Amendments” that was published on August 24, 2022.  In its petition, AGA requested that PHMSA address issues associated with §192.3, definitions, and enforcement discretion.

AGA requested a revision of the updated definition of “transmission line” with the phrase “connected series of pipelines” being removed. AGA stated that this language could result in confusion within the industry regarding whether a pipeline is a transmission line or not given interconnections between gas transmission lines and other types of gas pipelines, such as distribution pipelines. PHMSA agreed with AGA and will issue guidance clarifying its understanding of the meaning of “connected series of pipelines” within the regulatory definition of “transmission line” at 49 CFR 192.3.

AGA also requested clarification that the § 192.3 regulatory definitions of “In-line inspection” (“ILI”) as used within §192.710(a)(2) and §192.624(a)(2)(iii) encompasses free-swimming tools. The §192.3 definitions of ILI in the Final Rule was intended to clarify that operators are free to use tethered and self-propelled tools in addition to “free-swimming” or “piggable” ILI tools. The Final Rule was not intended to modify the meaning of a piggable (i.e., free-swimming) ILI tool for moderate consequence areas established in an earlier rulemaking referenced. PHMSA agreed with AGA and will issue guidance clarifying that the regulatory definition of “In-line inspection” at § 192.3 can include free-swimming tools.

As the effective date of the final rule is May 24, 2023, only nine months after the publication of the Final Rule, AGA requested an extension of the effective date to 18 months after publication in the Federal Register, which would extend the effective date to late February 2024. PHMSA partially granted AGA’s request by exercising enforcement discretion through a 9-month extension for pipe existing at the time of the Final Rule’s publication (August 24, 2022). This enforcement discretion does not apply to the timelines provided in the Final Rule with independent timelines such as §192.917(b), Data gathering, and integration.

RCP recommends that gas pipeline operators begin analyzing the impacts of this rulemaking and initiate procedural updates as soon as practicable.  For more information about how RCP is helping operators comply with the most recent final rules and how we might be able to help you, contact Jessica Foley.