Regulation Database – Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
Deregulatory Action: On June 19, 2020, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) within DOT, in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration, finalized an amendment to the Hazardous Materials Regulations allowing for the bulk transport of liquefied natural gas in rail tank cars. The rule was originally proposed in response to a petition by the Association of American Railroads, and may facilitate the transportation of natural gas to markets where pipeline transportation is limited or unavailable.
Litigation: Seven environmental groups and over a dozen states challenged the June 2020 rule before the D.C. Circuit, in a case that is currently being held in abeyance.
Reregulatory Action: On November 8, 2021, PHMSA proposed to amend the Hazardous Materials Regulations to suspend authorization of liquefied natural gas (LNG) transportation in rail tank cars. The proposed rule discusses potential public safety and environmental impacts from transporting LNG by rail, including indirect GHG emission contributions to climate change. Suspension of LNG transport by rail under the proposed rule would last until the earlier of either the completion of a separate rulemaking evaluating potential modifications to requirements governing rail tank car transportation of LNG, or June 30, 2024.
- Proposed Rule (November 8, 2021)
Pipeline Regulations and COVID-19
On March 20, 2020, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced that during the COVID-19 pandemic it will “exercise discretion in its overall enforcement of . . . [natural gas] pipeline safety regulations.” Those regulations include provisions governing pipeline leak detection and repair.
In its “Notice of Enforcement Discretion to Operators Affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak,” PHMSA committed to providing “flexibility” to pipeline operators facing “compliance challenges” due to the pandemic. Methane emissions could rise if PHMSA allows operators to postpone or even skip required pipeline patrols and surveys, which could delay leak detection and repair. Read more >>
Safety Regulations for Onshore Gas Gathering Pipelines
On November 2, 2021, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration published a final rule that revises the Federal Pipeline Safety Regulations to extend reporting and safety requirements to onshore gas gathering pipelines. Specifically, the rule extends reporting requirements to all gas gathering operators and applies a set of minimum safety requirements to certain gas gathering pipelines with large diameters and high operating pressures. The rule is designed to reduce the likelihood of gas gathering line failures, thus reducing the likelihood of greenhouse gas emissions releases during those failures.