While the Federal government is primarily responsible for developing, issuing, and enforcing safety regulations for pipelines, underground natural gas storage, and liquified natural gas (LNG) facilities, the pipeline safety statutes provide for State assumption of the intrastate regulatory, inspection, and enforcement responsibilities under an annual certification with PHMSA. To qualify for certification, a State must adopt the Federal regulations and may adopt additional or more stringent State regulations as long as they are not incompatible with the Federal regulations. A State must also provide for enforcement sanctions substantially the same as those authorized by the pipeline safety statutes.
A State agency which does not satisfy the criteria for certification may enter into an agreement to undertake certain aspects of the pipeline or underground natural gas safety programs for intrastate facilities on behalf of PHMSA. While the State agency under an agreement will inspect pipeline or underground natural gas storage operators to ascertain compliance with the Federal safety regulations, any probable violation(s) are reported to PHMSA for enforcement action.
Federal pipeline statutes provide for exclusive Federal authority to regulate interstate pipelines, interstate underground natural gas storage, and interstate LNG facilities. PHMSA may authorize a State to act as its agent to inspect interstate pipelines and LNG facilities or underground natural gas storage facilities, but retains responsibility for enforcement of the regulations. Most States have supported the concept of common stewardship in pipeline safety. The resulting Federal/State partnership allows leveraging of resources to deliver a cost-effective program that has one of the best safety records in transportation.
The Norman Y. Mineta Research and Special Programs Improvement Act authorized the formation of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).
Five statutes provide the framework for the Federal pipeline safety program.
- Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968
- Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Act of 1979
- Pipeline Inspection, Protection, Enforcement and Safety Act of 2006
- Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011
- Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of 2016
Federal Pipeline Safety Regulations
- Regulations are written as minimum performance standards.
- Assure safety in design, construction, inspection, testing, operation, and maintenance of pipeline, underground storage, and liquified natural gas (LNG) facilities.
- Set out parameters for administering the safety programs.
- Delineate requirements for onshore oil pipeline response plans.
State Pipeline Safety Programs
- Adopt the federal regulations.
- May issue more stringent regulations for intrastate pipeline, underground natural gas storage, and LNG operators under State law.
- National Association of Pipeline Safety Representative Compendium.