In This Issue

Proposed Pipeline Safety Legislation 111th Congress (2009-2010) S.3824

At least four bills have been proposed as part of PHMSA Reauthorization to provide for enhanced safety and environmental protection in pipeline transportation; and for enhanced reliability in the transportation of the nation’s energy products by pipeline. One bill has been passed by the House, but it seems unlikely that reauthorization will occur until 2011 when the 112th Congress is in place. While the details of these proposed bills are all up for negotiation, it does give a good preview of what is likely to change in the future. Some key issues that appear in the various bills include:

  • Requires higher civil penalty limits of not more than $250,000 for each violation. A separate violation occurs for each day the violation continues, with a maximum civil penalty for a related series of major consequence violations is $2,500,000. “Major consequence violation” means a violation that contributed to an incident resulting in any of the following:
    • One or more deaths;
    • One or more injuries or illnesses requiring hospitalization
    • Environmental harm exceeding $250,000 in estimated damage to the environment including property loss; or
    • A release of gas or hazardous liquids that ignites or otherwise presents a safety threat to the public or presents a threat to the environment
  • Expands PHMSA jurisdiction over gathering lines (gas and hazardous liquids) which will lead to further regulation of these lines. Pipeline data may be collected on any gathering line, including unregulated gathering lines. Nothing in this section authorizes the Secretary to regulate pipelines located on the grounds of a production facility.
  • Requires installation of automatic and remote controlled shutoff valves for new pipeline installations
  • Allows for data collection of non-jurisdictional onshore oil flow lines. Nothing in this new subsection authorizes the Secretary to prescribe standards for the movement of oil through production, refining, or manufacturing facilities, or through oil production flow lines located on the grounds of production facilities.
  • Includes special provisions for any new Alaska pipeline development and major repairs to existing Alaska pipelines.
  • Allows PHMSA to gather more GIS data via NPMS prior to construction.
  • Requires PHMSA to maintain data of all pipeline inspections conducted over the previous month and post on the PHMSA website
  • Requires 120 day notice to PHMSA for new construction projects.
  • Requires telephonic notification of pipeline incidents within 1 hour to the National Response Center
  • Requires operators to pay for PHMSA design reviews of new construction projects.
  • Adds more conditions to Special Permits and requires the operator to pay for environmental reviews.
  • Possible expansion of integrity management requirements outside of HCA’s and elimination of class locations.
  • Adds biofuels that are flammable, toxic, corrosive or would be harmful to the environment to PHMSA jurisdiction.
  • Adds gaseous CO2 to PHMSA jurisdiction.
  • Possible expansion of PHMSA jurisdiction to non-petroleum hazardous liquid pipelines, such as chlorine, from chemical production facilities across land areas not owned by the producer that are accessible to the public.
  • Allows PHMSA to hire 40 more full time employees over a 4 year period.

For copies of these bills, contact Jessica Roger.