In This Issue

Pipeline Damage Prevention Programs

[Docket No. PHMSA-2009-0192; Amdt. No. 196-1; 198-7]

On July 23, 2015, PHMSA published a final rule to allow for Federal administrative enforcement action in States with inadequate enforcement programs of excavation damage prevention requirements. The Federal requirements PHMSA will enforce in States with inadequate excavation damage prevention law enforcement programs, as well as the adjudication process for administrative enforcement proceedings against excavators where Federal authority is exercised, are contained in a new Part 196 of the pipeline safety rules in 49 CFR, which applies to excavators.

Because the new Part 196 will only apply in states that do not have an adequate damage prevention enforcement program, the rule also establishes the review criteria for State excavation damage prevention law enforcement programs, and an administrative process for making State adequacy determinations. These revisions are contained in Part 198 of 49 CFR, applicable to states.

Editor’s note: Damage prevention legislation, regulation, and enforcement for excavators is currently conducted at the state level. PHMSA’s damage prevention regulations historically have only applied to pipeline operators, not excavators. IMHO, PHMSA has no interest in taking over enforcement of damage prevention regulations within any state against excavators. This rule was required by Congress under the PIPES act, and is intended to encourage States to develop effective excavation damage prevention law enforcement programs to protect the public from the risk of pipeline ruptures caused by excavation damage.

This final rule is effective January 1, 2016.

For a copy of this Final Rule, contact Jessica Foley.