Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Department of Transportation proposes new regulations for natural gas pipelines

Citing concern over an increase in natural gas pipeline explosions, the U.S. Department of Transportation on Thursday proposed regulations "that would expand federal safety standards to a bigger group of pipelines," Timothy Cama reports for The Hill. "The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's (PHMSA) proposal would implement new assessment and repair criteria and apply them to gas lines in moderately populated areas. The rules previously only applied to densely populated areas. It would also make pre-1970 pipelines, previously left out of the regulatory reach, subject to many of the same rules older structures must follow."

Proposed regulations "do not mandate automatic shut-off or leak detection systems, one of the major remaining regulations from the 2011 law and a top ask of pipeline safety advocates," Cama writes. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), whose district includes San Bruno, Calif. site of a 2010 explosion that killed eight people, said she was pleased with the regulations but will "continue pushing for the shut-off and leak detection standards and that PHMSA has assured her they’re under development as part of a separate rule."

PHMSA Administrator Marie Therese Dominguez, who said the San Bruno explosion was a major reason for the new rules, along with the 2011 pipeline safety law, told Cama, “The proposal's components address the emerging needs of America's natural gas pipeline system and adapt and expand risk-based safety practices to pipelines located in areas where incidents could have serious consequences."

No comments: