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Interpretation Response #PI-76-041 ([National LP-Gas Association] [Richard H. Stock])

Below is the interpretation response detail and a list of regulations sections applicable to this response.

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: National LP-Gas Association

Individual Name: Richard H. Stock

Location State: VA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

July 28, 1976

Mr. Richard H. Stock
National LP-Gas Association
1800 N. Kent Street
Arlington, Virginia 22209

Dear Mr. Stock:

This responds to your letter of June 8, 1976, regarding interpretations of terms in 49 CFR 192.11(a) and enforcement policy.

In our letter to you dated May 27, 1976, we stated that for the purpose of Section 192.11(a):

"A 'system' normally consists of a tank storing petroleum gas in liquid form and the
appurtenant pipelines and other facilities used by the operator of the system to deliver gas
to one or more customers."

You propose that we reconsider this interpretation to provide, alternatively, that as the term"system" is used in the second instance in Section 192.11(a), it means either "a system that serves 10 or more customers" or "a system that serves more than one customer." The logic of the
proposal is, respectively, that as used in the second instance in Section 192.11(a), the term"system" should have a meaning consistent with its meaning as used in the first instance, and that the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968 (the Act) does not authorize regulation of a system serving a single customer.

With respect to the first argument, our interpretation of the term "system" relates to the physical means of transporting petroleum gas and not to the number of customers served. Thus, there is not any inconsistency in applying the interpretation to the term as it is used in each instance in Section 192.11(a). Moreover, the separate qualifying phrases, "that serves 10 or more customers" and "any portion of which is located in a public place," serve to identify those systems which are subject to regulation and are not related to the meaning of the term "system."

Also, we do not agree with the second argument that regulation of a system serving only one customer is not authorized. The Act applies to all transportation of gas that "affects" interstate commerce. The Supreme Court has held that even a single intrastate transaction can reduce potential interstate markets and thus be properly regulated under the commerce clause of the Constitution. Therefore, in the absence of any specific statutory language to the contrary, we believe that all
transportation of gas to the ultimate consumer sufficiently affects interstate commerce to bring it under the Act.

Your second proposal concerns our interpretation of the term "public place" in Section 192.11(a).

We have interpreted the term "public place" to mean a place which is generally open to all persons in a community as opposed to being restricted to specific persons, including churches, schools, and commercial buildings as well as any publicly owned right-of-way or property frequented by persons. You propose that we qualify this interpretation by limiting it to "that portion of a public place to which an invitee would normally have access." The purpose of the amended interpretation would be to exclude from regulation small single-tank systems generally located at the rear of a public place or in a kitchen or furnace room where persons are not reasonably expected to enter.

We do not feel that the objective of this second proposal would be consistent with pipeline safety.

Although the likelihood of outside interference with systems in public places may be minimized by locating the systems in restricted areas, the risk of injury to the public is not hereby eliminated.

Other causes of failure, for example, a malfunction of the system itself, could result in a fire or explosion and harm persons at the public place. It is this eventuality against which the rule is intended to protect. While we agree in principle that public safety should not hinge on ownership of the gas in a system, our statutory responsibility for safety only relates to the transportation of gas in or affecting commerce, which ends when title to the gas passes to the ultimate consumer.

Finally, we cannot concur with your suggested enforcement policy since Part 192 must be enforced as written and interpreted. Any change in the application of Part 192 to petroleum gas systems must be accomplished through the rulemaking process. If it can be demonstrated, as you suggest, that the application of Part 192 does not contribute to safety in areas which conflict with or are additional to NFPA standards 58 and 59, then the pertinent rules should be changed on that basis.

We look forward to your further submissions concerning Docket No. Pet. 76-7, particularly as they may relate to what Federal safety regulation is needed or appropriate for the small petroleum gas system operator.


Cesar DeLeon
Acting Director
Office of Pipeline
Safety Operations

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
192.11 Petroleum gas systems