Transportation Department Gas Pipeline Safety Rules Opposed by Industry Return With Vengeance

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Safety regulations previously opposed by natural gas pipeline operators and others in the industry have returned in a Department of Transportation proposed rule that would set new requirements for both main and gathering pipelines.

In addition to the potential to add millions of new compliance costs for industry, the “gas transmission” rule, made public by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration in March, marks a shift away from performance-based rules and voluntary standards historically preferred by the industry, according to analysts such as Brigham McCown, who formerly served as acting administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration during the George W. Bush administration.

“Depending on how you slice these numbers the potential impact could affect over 300,000 miles of pipelines that are currently not regulated or are subject only to reporting requirements,” McCown told Bloomberg BNA. “I think it's broader than anyone expected and people are surprised it's this broad.”

The rule's most onerous requirements include: regulating pipelines in more modestly populated areas for the first time; setting new testing requirements for pipelines built before 1970 and ending an exemption on regulation currently in place for most pipes used in the mid-stream production process known as “gathering lines.”

Bloomberg BNA reporter Ari Natter has the story for subscribers in "Return of Gas Pipeline Rules Opposed by Industry."