RSPA/OPS published a proposed rule on pipeline integrity management in high consequence areas for gas transmission pipelines on January 28, 2003 ( 68 FR 4278 ). That notice provided a 60-day comment period ending on March 31, 2003. By petition dated March 6, 2003, the American Gas Association (AGA), the American Public Gas Association (APGA), and the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) requested that the comment period be extended by 60 days, from March 31, 2003, to May 30, 2003.
In the petition, the associations argue that because the proposed rule is lengthy and complex, additional time is necessary to analyze the proposal and prepare comments. The petition also refers to the public meeting on March 14, 2003, where OPS will discuss the proposed rule. The associations maintain it will take time for them to inform their member companies about the discussions at the meeting so that the companies can use the information in developing their comments.
RSPA/OPS has decided to extend the comment period in light of the request and the complexity of this proposed rule. RSPA/OPS does not consider that a 60-day extension is necessary. A statutory requirement (Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002, 49 U.S.C. 60109(c)) requires us to publish the final rule by December 17, 2003. A 60-day extension of the comment period would not allow us to meet this statutory deadline. A 30-day extension provides 45 days after the public meeting for interested parties to submit comments.
RSPA/OPS believes that an extension of the comment period by 30 days from the existing closing date (March 31, 2003) is reasonable; the comment period is hereby extended to April 30, 2003.