Department: Government

Government

September 2017, Vol. 244, No. 9

Appeals Court Decision May Trump House Pipeline Bill The House passed two pipeline bills – which could run into trouble in the Senate for lack of Democratic support – amid continuing industry unhappiness with federal and state regulatory agency foot-dragging on permit approvals. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which has authority to clarify federal regulations, made decisions on two separate pipeline cases in June. In one of them, the court clarified that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has the right to grant a pipeline an exemption from state...

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Government

August 2017, Vol. 244, No. 8

Congress Considers Dueling FERC Pipeline Approval Reforms The House and Senate are on a collision course sponsoring different pieces of legislation that attempt to give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) new authority to speed approval of new pipeline projects. The bill the House Energy & Commerce Committee passed on June 28 ups the ante in favor of the industry compared to an earlier draft of the “Promoting Interagency Coordination for Review of Natural Gas Pipelines Act” (H.R. 2910) introduced in May, which generally followed the lines of similar legislation introduced in past Congresses, but...

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Government

July 2017, Vol. 244, No. 7

EPA Agrees to Reconsider Elements of Methane Emissions Controls The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has delayed implementation of its 2016 methane leak rule for 90 days beyond the original June 3, 2017 start date as a first step in reconsideration of parts of that rule. Both the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) have criticized various provisions in the final rule, issued in May 2016, with the API submitting an August 2016 request for reconsideration of numerous provisions – a request the Obama administration ignored. On April 18,...

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Government

June 2017, Vol. 244, No. 6

Republicans Ready Regulatory Relief for Pipelines Based on two hearings it appears House GOP members are focused on providing the pipeline industry with regulatory relief as part of any upcoming infrastructure bill. One House committee held hearings in May on a discussion draft of legislation containing changes to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Section 7 pipeline approval process. The other committee heard testimony from industry leaders on needed changes to the pipeline safety laws administered by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Don Santa, CEO at the Interstate Natural Gas Association of...

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Government

May 2017, Vol. 244, No. 5

Pipeline Industry Worried About Domestic Content Memorandum President Trump’s stated intention to require new and repaired pipelines to use “domestic content” has the potential to throw a monkey wrench into future construction. But his ability to turn the proposal into reality remains a question. Pipeline trade groups responding to a Department of Commerce Federal Register notice point out that Trump’s authority to impose a domestic content requirement on privately funded investment is far from clear. The notice was an effort to help flesh out Trump’s Jan. 24 memorandum requiring new pipelines to use American materials...

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Government

April 2017, Vol. 244, No. 4

FERC Publishes Draft Guidance for Pipeline Consultations on Indian Lands In an apparent effort to forestall the political problems that threatened construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has published draft guidance for interstate pipeline companies with regard to how they should communicate with Indian tribes when planning projects that could impact cultural resources on or near Indian lands. The draft is extremely detailed, starting with how pipeline operators should make contact with Indian tribes, what kind of consultations are required and what reports should be submitted, in what detail...

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Government

March 2017, Vol. 244, No. 3

PHMSA Makes Some Positive Changes in Final Safety Rule The Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) made several changes in pipeline safety laws in a final rule covering several provisions in the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011. Key provisions dealt with the timeframe for notification of accidents or incidents and new fees companies would pay PHMSA for its design review work on projects totaling over $2.5 billion or which use new or novel technologies. PHMSA made some changes in the final rule in response to industry concerns but in...

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Timeframe, Wording at Issue in Underground Facility Safety Rule

February 2017, Vol. 244, No. 2

The compliance start date for the new federal safety requirement on underground gas storage facilities doesn’t go into effect for one year, but arrival of the Trump administration could extend that deadline. That is the hope of groups such as the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) and the American Petroleum Institute (API). While they generally support part of the incorporation of industry voluntary standards into federal pipeline safety laws, they claim the 12-month implementation deadline is too short. The industry hopes the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) will realize the problem...

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Government

January 2017, Vol. 244, No. 1

BLM Rule Could Stimulate Gathering Line Construction The final rule requiring oil and gas exploration companies on federal lands to capture gas instead of flaring may be a boon to the pipeline construction industry but a potential bust to well developers. It is not often that a federal regulatory dictate is good for one section of the oil and gas industry but bad for another. But the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which is part of the Department of Interior, manages to create that divergence with its November decision, affecting nearly 100,000 federal onshore oil...

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Government

December 2016, Vol. 243, No. 12

Interim Gas Storage Regulations Upcoming from PHMSA Interim regulations from PHMSA on natural gas storage facilities are imminent. They are unlikely to be controversial since the Pipeline and Hazardous Safety Administration says it will be based on two industry voluntary standards: API Recommended Practices 1170 and 1171, both fully supported by pipeline groups. The regulations were adopted in 2015 in the wake of the leak at SoCalGas’s Aliso Canyon facility. There are 415 underground gas storage facilities in the U.S., half are interstate and half intrastate. However, permanent regulations scheduled to be finalized in the...

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Government

November 2016, Vol. 243, No. 11

PHMSA Fleshes Out New Emergency Order The new interim final rule (IFR) from PHMSA gives pipeline safety regulators wide latitude to penalize multiple gas and hazardous liquid pipelines at one time for perceived safety violations. Those violations would have to be serious enough to require the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to issue an emergency order which can include restrictions, prohibitions, and safety measures without prior notice or an opportunity for a hearing. One Washington attorney explains. “This is an extraordinary remedy to be used in extraordinary circumstances. My concern is that its...

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Government

October 2016, Vol. 243, No. 10

PHMSA Cautions Industry on Abandoned Pipelines Interstate and intrastate gas and hazardous liquids pipelines received a two-pronged warning from PHMSA. The agency, following up on dictates in the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016, told operators to pay attention to regulatory requirements based on the status of the pipeline’s operations, and secondly, to pay attention to obligations when abandoning pipelines. The advisory bulletin published in August by PHMSA cited several recent pipeline accidents. For example, on May 31, 2015 a 24-inch natural gas “auxiliary” pipeline crossing the Arkansas River in...

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