State Pipeline Safety Regulation Updates – September 2019

Click on a region below to see details.

Eastern Region Update  Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia

Southern Region Update  Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee

Central Region Update  Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin

Southwest Region Update  Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas

Western Region Update  Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming

Eastern Region Update

Maine

The Main PUC has initiated a rulemaking to consider adoption of rules for Gas Utility Meter Performance, Accuracy, Testing and Related Standards. The rules:

  • Provide that meters shall be owned and maintained by the gas utility, except where it is impracticable to do so, and defines recordkeeping and retention requirements.
  • Address performance and accuracy standards, providing that all meters shall comply with applicable codes and standards, and that gas utilities shall include in their Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) the applicable standards, codes and requirements for each meter type used, and the process by which gas utilities shall ensure and document compliance with these standards.
  • Address testing protocols, including the removal and testing of meters that do not meet applicable performance and accuracy standards, or customer-requested tests requires the utility to provide the customer a written report upon completion of a meter test.
  • Specify how each gas utility will develop and apply ccf-to-therm conversion factors used for customer billing

[Comment deadline was August 24.]

Massachusetts

The Department of Public Utilities commenced a rulemaking proceeding and adopted emergency revisions to its procedures for the Determination and Enforcement of Violations of the Dig Safe law effective July 18. The revisions were designed primarily to implement the federal minimum safety requirements for damage prevention, pursuant to 49 C.F.R. Parts 192 and 196. The Department also adopted changes to its rules to clarify the obligations of both excavators and utility companies and to establish more efficient procedures for the enforcement of violations.
[Hearing on final adoption was held August 26, and final comments were due September 3.]

In response to the September 2018 Merrimack Valley gas explosions a group of new bills was introduced in the Massachusetts legislature. The bills below are representative of some of the major themes addressed in the proposed legislation:

SD2160 An Act Relative to Gas Leaks and Infrastructure outlines proposed new regulations for Emergency response (operators to immediately inform fire department and chief law enforcement officers, all departments must generate a report after each event). Operators would be required to provide grade 2 and 3 monthly leak reporting to fire department, conduct public way site repair after project and subsequent maintenance of site for 5 years. The DPU would be required to review the number of pipeline inspectors at least annually. Operator penalties for failure to comply include denial of rate increase and/or financial penalties.

SD2153 An Act to Promote Gas Safety
Boards and committees:
Establishes an energy infrastructure oversight board, to be appointed by the governor to make recommendations with respect to gas safety, oversight and inspection of gas facilities, employment of inspectors and engineers to oversee pipeline construction and maintenance, and emergency response protocols for gas-related incidents. Annual reports from the committee will be presented to the governor and Senate House committees on ways and means. Also creates a commission to review the state’s gas infrastructure and provide a report to the general court by January 1, 2020.
Cooperative reporting with neighboring states:
Establish a notification system to provide and receive information regarding incidents.
Leaks reported by public:
response to be timely, all leak reports from customers will be logged in a publicly-accessible database.
LNG safety:
All proposals for substantial construction, renovation, repair or expansion for facilities that store, vaporize or produce liquefied natural gas are subject to DPU review, must include an analysis of the proposal’s impact on the safety of the facility and the distribution system during and after construction and may be further reviewed by energy facilities siting board and Mass environmental policy act office.
More pipeline engineers:
The department shall employ pipeline engineers to oversee construction on or adjacent to distribution company pipelines, ensure compliance with all relevant statutory and regulatory requirements and investigate complaints. All pipeline engineers shall receive the necessary training and qualification to perform field duties, as determined by the department, not later than 6 months after employment. The department shall employ not less than 1 pipeline engineer for every 100 miles of pipeline owned by a distribution or one pipeline engineer for every 2,000 customers, whichever is greater.
Regulators:
The department of public utilities shall promulgate regulations establishing requirements for the maintenance and security of gas regulators, including, but not limited to, service quality metrics. The department shall implement these regulations not later than January 1, 2021

HD 1097 Act for field safety in gas infrastructure
Maps and records:
DPU to promulgate regulations by 1/1/2021 establishing requirements for the maintenance, timely updating, accuracy, and security of gas LDC maps and records. Each LDC shall report each disruption in its ability to provide electronic data, including but not limited to, maps and records relevant to inspections, maintenance, repairs, and construction to its in-house workforce and contractors lasting more than 30 minutes – disruptions will be incorporated as a metric in the DPU’s service quality indicators for LDCs.
In addition:

  • Each LDC shall maintain a central control room within its service territory with trained staff sufficient to monitor its pipeline and respond to fluctuations in pressurization, reportable incidents, and infrastructure failures.
  • Outlines system of uniform natural gas leaks classification/reporting for all gas companies.
  • Leak detection and repair of leaks prior to projects on public way by municipalities, state or LDC; ensure safety valves function
  • Leaks within school zone are priority
  • Inside meter safety

Additional bills that address improving excavation safety were also introduced.

New York

The Public Service Commission has opened rulemaking dockets (19-G-018119-G-0182) to update its rules to ensure conformance with 49 CFR Part 192 and Part 199, Transportation of Natural and Other Gas by Pipeline.

Ohio

The Ohio PUC is conducting a 5-year review of its Gas Pipeline Safety rules. Notice inviting comments on proposed amendments was filed on August 14, 2019. The amendments would make the following changes:

  • require each operator to have a plan for abandoning inactive service lines
  • add requirements for the reevaluation of repaired or reclassified leaks would apply to below grade hazardous leaks
  • require gas gathering/processing plant pipeline operators to provide total mileage of gas gathering piping operated in Ohio and counties of operation in the 24-hour contact report
  • reduce the number of reports required for important additions to intrastate gas pipeline facilities

[Comment deadline has been extended to September 27, 2019.]

Pennsylvania

The following bills were introduced and referred to the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure committee in February:
SB263 would add a new section “Pipeline Safety Valves” requiring that all facilities of a public utility engaged in the transmission of gas or hazardous liquids placed into service after the effective date of this section to have automatic or remote controlled shutoff valves installed. Annual testing of these valves would be required.
SB258 would require utilities to meet with local emergency management organizations twice per year, and outlines the information that operators would be required to transmit. (First consideration in Senate on June 19.)
SB 260 outlines types of information that pipeline operators must provide to schools, if requested, that fall within 1000 ft of PUC-jurisdictional hazardous liquids and natural gas pipelines, including how to respond to a leak or product release. (Similar to HB 733 introduced in March, now in House Consumer Affairs committee.)

The following bill was introduced and referred to the Environmental Resources and Energy committee in February:
SB 283 would replace the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission with the Department of Transportation of the Commonwealth; and providing for Federal delegation. The bill would centralize pipeline safety inspection within the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), Pennsylvania’s lateral regulatory agency to PHMSA. Second, PennDOT would be required to make application to the federal government for designation as an Interstate Agent in the inspection of interstate pipelines traversing Pennsylvania.

A group of bills were introduced in March as part of a “Pipeline Safety Package” and are currently in the House Consumer Affairs committee.
HB 886 would require a public utility operating a pipeline in a high consequence area to install automatic or remote shutoff valves within 100 feet of each municipal boundary crossed by the facility and within 100 feet of the facility’s entry and exist of each high consequence area. A public utility is required to test the reliability of shutoff valves annually and provide the results of these tests to each municipality where a shutoff valve is located.
HB 887 would amend the Gas and Hazardous Liquids Pipelines Act to require General Assembly approval, by concurrent resolution, prior to the construction or development of any pipeline that traverses three or more counties.
HB 888 would amend the Gas and Hazardous Liquids Pipelines Act to require that, following an incident that results in a shutdown of a pipeline, the operator must inspect the entirety of the pipeline before resuming operations. Under federal regulations, a pipeline operator may voluntarily or involuntarily, by action of the Public Utility Commission, suspend operations of a pipeline when a leak occurs that results in a death or personal injury requiring hospitalization, property damage of $50,000 or more, loss of three million cubic feet or more of product, or any other event deemed significant in the judgment of the operator.
HB 889 would amend the Gas and Hazardous Liquids Pipelines Act to require a pipeline operator, upon written request, to release any safety assessment studies or data that were conducted or collected about their facilities.
HB 890 would require a public utility with facilities transporting natural gas or natural gas liquids to meet with the county emergency coordinators along the pipeline route to identify any high consequence areas and the potential impact radius around the pipeline. The public utility must also share its current emergency operating procedures with the emergency coordinators.

Washington, D.C.

City Council bill B23-0117, now in the Committee on Business and Economic Development and scheduled for a public hearing on May 13, would broaden enforcement authority of underground facilities, such as gas and power lines to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs administratively. Currently, enforcement authority is limited to the District of Columbia Superior Court. This bill also:

  • Amends the definition of excavation to include trenchless technology
  • Requires that utilities respond to request from One-Call within 48 hours
  • Requires that a project provide adequate protection, including supports as needed, to utility operator workers when they enter the immediate vicinity of the facility.
  • Eliminates an exception for small excavation projects that were contained within the limits of the original excavation and did not exceed twelve inches in depth.
  • Increases the civil penalty for subsequent violations from $3,500 to $5,000 for a second offense and from $5,000 to $10,000 for a third or subsequent offense. As an alternative to these civil penalties, the bill authorizes the Mayor to issue civil fines and penalties under the Civil Infraction Act
  • Authorizes the Mayor to implement educational programs, collect data, and require reporting by entities subject to the Act in order to develop an effective damage prevention program.

[Public hearing held May 13, bill currently under council review.]

A third Notice of Proposed Rulemaking with amendments to Chapter 15-37 DCMR Natural Gas Quality of Service Standards was filed  in November 2018 to modify reporting requirements for gas outages and incidents; reporting and repairing requirements for gas leaks and odor complaints; reporting and responding requirements for gas emergencies; customer service standards and surveys; reliability standards; and compliance reporting. The amendments also propose remedies for violations that may include forfeiture or civil penalties.

Southern Region Update

Alabama

SB315 was signed into law and becomes effective on January 1, 2020. It creates the 17-member Underground Damage Prevention Authority to enforce the notification requirement penalties provisions of the “One-Call Notification System”;  (1) for a first violation, a fine not to exceed $500; (2) for a second violation, a fine not to exceed $1,000; (3) for a third and subsequent violations, a fine not to exceed $4,000; and (4) for a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000 for a violation that is a result of gross negligence. This bill requires the Public Service Commission (PSC) to provide administrative support to the Authority.

Kentucky

The Public Service Commission has proposed amendments to its rules for the installation of gathering lines, reclamation of disturbed areas, and safety requirements of gathering lines as they pertain to oil and gas production operations. This amendment deletes the definition section (definitions for entire chapter included in a new Definitions regulation at top of chapter), outlines more specific testing requirements, and corrects citations in the administrative regulation. It also amends two forms that are incorporated by reference: “Application for Gathering Line Operator’s License” and “Notification/Application for a Gathering Line Permit: Installation, Reclamation and Operation Plan”.
A public hearing on the proposed amendments will be held on August 22, 2019.

North Carolina

H872, signed by the Governor on August 1, 2019 and effective on October 1, 2019, includes the following provisions:

  • Modifies the information an operator must provide to excavators designating the location of underground facilities in the area of a proposed excavation to require operators to mark:
    • The dimension of an underground facility every 50 feet, rather than every 25 feet, in certain circumstances.
    • The operator’s identity in an area where the proposed excavation or demolition is to occur. At a minimum, the operator’s identity must be marked at the beginning point, at intervals of 200 linear feet, and at the end point of the proposed excavation or demolition.
  • Modifies the minimum requirements for the notice that an excavator must provide to the Notification Center concerning the location of a proposed excavation or demolition, by identifying:
    • A single parcel that may exceed 1/4 mile in linear length, by a single address.
    • The lesser of five adjoining parcels, not to exceed 1/4 mile in linear length or an area not to exceed 1/4 mile in linear length, by addresses.
  • Prohibits an excavator from using mechanized equipment within 24 inches of a facility that is a highly volatile liquid pipeline system (in addition to existing prohibitions on gas, oil, and petroleum transmission lines).
  • Modifies the exemption concerning routine maintenance in a right-of-way, requiring that persons doing such maintenance must be on “permanent payroll” of the entity performing the maintenance, and not a contractor acting behalf of such an entity.
  • Adds an exemption for pavement milling and resurfacing (which had previously been included in the exemption for maintenance activities).
  • Modifies the notice provision for emergency excavation or demolition to require written notice to the Notification Center as soon as practicable.
  • Adds a new requirement that the Board approve training courses and the sponsors of those training courses in connection with actions or penalty the Board may impose for a violation.

The bill also authorizes the Board to impose a fee on operators in order to fund the activities and operations of the Board in reviewing reports of alleged violations of this Article. The fee is based on the jurisdictional revenues of an operator, and will be set at a rate that the total proceeds of all fees collected will not exceed $200,000 annually to fund the activities and operations of the Board.

Central Region Update

Iowa

The Board is engaged in the following additional rulemakings:
RMU-2016-0004 Review of Intrastate Gas and Underground Gas Storage Rules in 199 IAC Chapter 10
RMU-2016-0013 Review of Restoration of Agricultural Lands During and After Pipeline Construction Rules in 199 IAC Chapter 9
RMU-2016-0015 Review of Hazardous Liquid Pipelines and Underground Storage Rules 199 IAC Chapter 13
Status information on these dockets is available here.

Michigan

The MPSC is proposing to adopt amendments to its rules governing gas safety to adopt by reference current federal regulations and standards and to define record retention periods.
[Request for rulemaking approved June 24, 2019.]

Missouri

As a result of Executive Order 19-02, the Public Service Commission is transferring from the Department of Economic Development to the Department of Commerce and Insurance. Effective August 28, 2019, the Commission’s Administrative rules were transferred to the Department of Commerce.

Nebraska

LB 462 was approved by the Governor on May 31 and became effective on September 1. This bill amended the One-Call Notification System Act to add notification requirements, provide additional authority and duties for the One-Call Board of Directors and the State Fire Marshal, created a dispute resolution board, and requires utility locators to be licensed by the SFM.

Southwest Region Update

Oklahoma

SB1008/HB2097 amends the definition for “excavate”, includes activities within a public or private right-of-way; modifies the timeline requiring the operator to locate and mark underground facilities (from 48 hours after receipt of demolition notice to prior to the date work is scheduled to begin).
[Approved by the Governor April 14, effective November 1.]

Texas

HB 864 was signed by the Governor on June 14 and became effective on September 1. This bill adds a new code section regarding pipeline incident reporting and records. It defines “incident” and directs the RRC to promulgate rules by December 31, 2019 to require an operator to notify the commission within 1 hour of the confirmed discovery of an incident to provide contact information, incident location and any other known pertinent information.

Several other bills signed by the Governor and effective September 1 made other minor changes and technical corrections to the code.

The RRC has offered drafts of amendments to its rules (Ch. 3Ch. 8), revised after the Commission’s public workshop. The comment deadline was extended to August 12, 2019. The rule drafts are working drafts that have not been finalized and have not been submitted to the Texas Register for publication for public comment.
The draft rules include amendments regarding:

  • Class 1 and rural gathering (gas and hazardous liquid) lines (§8.110. Gathering Pipelines);
  • implementation of HB 864 and HB866 requirements;
  • reductions to late fees for certain pipeline operators;
  • amendments to the pipeline permits rule; and
  • clean-up amendments to Chapter 8.

These amendments relate to the intrastate natural gas gathering pipelines located in Class 1 locations and not regulated by 49 CFR 192.8.  Activities to be required for these applicable pipelines:

  • Corrosion control
  • Damage Prevention
  • Public Awareness
  • Establish MAOP
  • Install & maintain line markers
  • Conduct leakage surveys using leak detection equipment & promptly repair hazardous leaks
  • Reporting

In addition, Class 1 onshore natural gas gathering lines greater than 12.75 inches in diameter with a MAOP that produces a hoop stress of 20 percent or more of SMYS must comply with the requirements of 49 CFR §192 applicable to transmission lines, except for integrity management and ability to run ILI/smart pig.
This same section applies to those intrastate hazardous liquids and carbon dioxide gathering pipelines located in a rural location as defined by 49 CFR §195.2 and not regulated by 49 CFR §195.1, §195.11, or §8.1. These lines must comply with the following requirements:

  • Corrosion control
  • Damage Prevention
  • Public Awareness
  • Establish MOP
  • Install and maintain line markers
  • ROW inspections & promptly repair hazardous leaks
  • Reporting

Western Region Update

California

The OSFM is proposing to develop new rules for the California Underground Facilities Safe Excavation Board – Investigations and Enforcement

  • This rulemaking action implements, interprets, clarifies, and makes specific investigation of possible violations and enforcement of article 2, chapter 3.1, division 5, of title 1 of the Government Code (“Dig Safe Law”), and onsite meeting and agreement requirements for areas of continual excavation near high priority subsurface installations.
  • The proposed regulations will require members of regional notification centers to maintain valid and current contact information with the appropriate regional notification center; require regional notification centers to provide updated contact information for their members to the Board upon request; require excavators to notify the appropriate regional notification center of certain types of damages to subsurface installations; require regional notification centers to transmit the damage notifications to the Board; establish investigation and enforcement processes, including types of sanctions, of the Dig Safe Law on excavators and operators; and establish requirements for excavators and operators for onsite meetings and agreements for areas of continual excavation near high priority subsurface installations.

[Comment period concluded on July 2]

The OSFM’s ongoing rulemaking to develop regulations as required by legislation that was passed after the 2015 Santa Barbara oil spill – AB 864 (2015) – continues. These regulations will become a new Article “Requirements For New Or Replacement Pipeline Near Environmentally and Ecologically Sensitive Areas In The Coastal Zone.”
Proposed rules were updated on Jan 17, 2019 after multiple workshops in 2017 and 2018. A notice of proposed rulemaking was issued in February. Public hearings were held through April, with the end of the comment period April 2, 2019.

The Public Utilities Commission concluded its rulemaking regarding rules for Gas Leak Abatement. The final decision extends the timeframe from 2020 to 2021 for the CPUC’s Safety and Enforcement Division and Energy Division Staff to complete a written program evaluation of the Natural Gas Leak Abatement Program after Commission approval of the second set of Compliance Plans in late 2020. All directives of Decision D1706015 remain in effect. Following submission of the second set of Best Practices Biennial Compliance Plans due March 2020 and the Natural Gas Leakage Abatement program evaluation in 2021, the Commission will determine the direction of the program moving forward.

SB169 this bill would authorize the State Fire Marshal to:

  • require the owner or operator of a pipeline to establish and maintain records, make reports, and provide any information that the State Fire Marshal reasonably requires, to create an inventory of pipelines that will be available to the public.
  • enter operator’s facility and inspect records.
  • disclose records, reports, or other information required to be maintained to an officer, employee, or authorized representative of the state or the United States for purposes of carrying out the requirements of the act or the federal Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Act, or when relevant to a proceeding pursuant to the act.

Current code excludes from the definition of pipeline a pipeline for the transportation of crude oil that operates by gravity or at a stress level of 20 percent or less of the specified minimum yield strength of the pipe. This bill would eliminate that exclusion.
This section will become operative only upon receipt of federal block grant funds as determined by the State Fire Marshal.
[July 10 Failed passage, granted reconsideration in Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization]

AB1166 The regional notification center shall report the issuance of tickets to the Public Utilities Commission, and the Public Utilities Commission shall retain these records for five or more years.
[September 10 – Senate amendments concurred to, sent for engrossment/enrollment.]

SB463 Would require an operator of a gas storage well to provide the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) a complete chemical inventory of specified materials that may be emitted from a gas storage well. Requires, on or before July 1, 2021, DOGGR in response to the independent root cause analysis of the 2015 Aliso Canyon gas leak, to review and revise, as applicable, its natural gas storage well policy and regulations. This includes regulations for cathodic protection of well casings, requirements for well control plans that include flow rate and potential flow rate calculations, and Requirements for reporting and investigating leaks and other pressure equipment integrity incidents that present a risk of leaks.
[September 10 – Senate amendments concurred to, sent for engrossment/enrollment.]

Idaho

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission conducted a public meeting August 20 to review its recently reauthorized rules and receive public input. Included in this review are:

  • Safety and Accident Reporting Rules for Utilities Regulated by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission
  • Gas Service Rules

The reauthorized rules were given temporary effective dates of June 30, 2019.


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