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    PHMSA Announces Proposed Rulemaking Affecting Natural Gas Distribution Systems

    September 15, 2023 - By Mr J. Brian Jackson, Katherine Creef, Andrew F. Gann Jr. and Kristen L. Mynes


      On Aug. 24, 2023, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced the forthcoming publication of a notice of proposed rulemaking intended to improve safety on gas distribution pipelines nationwide by improving emergency response plans, integrity management plans and operation manuals, among other things. Comments will be due 60 days from the date the notice is published in the Federal Register.

      This notice of proposed rulemaking implements congressionally mandated revisions from the Leonel Rondon Pipeline Safety Act, enacted as part of the Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2020, commonly known as the 2020 PIPES Act. It also addresses recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board.

      The proposed rule would require pipeline operators to improve construction procedures designed to minimize the risk of incidents caused by system over-pressurization and update distribution integrity management programs to cover and prepare for over-pressurization incidents. Additionally, any new regulator stations would have to be designed with secondary pressure relief valves and remote gas monitoring.

      The proposed rule emphasizes the importance of emergency response plans, and requires operators to contact local emergency responders and keep customers and the public informed of what to do in case of an emergency. Additionally, PHMSA's proposed effective dates for some of these proposed requirements would begin one year after the final rule's publication.

      The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

      Mr J. Brian Jackson

      McGuireWoods LLP

      Gateway Plaza

      800 East Canal Street

      Richmond, VA




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