While the Federal government is primarily responsible for developing, issuing, and enforcing pipeline safety regulations, the pipeline safety statutes provide for State assumption of the intrastate regulatory, inspection, and enforcement responsibilities under an annual certification. To qualify for certification, a state must adopt the minimum Federal regulations and may adopt additional or more stringent regulations as long as they are not incompatible. 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 safety program for intrastate facilities on behalf of OPS. While the state agency under an agreement will inspect pipeline operators to ascertain compliance with Federal safety regulations, any probable violations are reported to OPS for enforcement action. Every State is currently participating in the natural gas pipeline safety program except for Alaska and Hawaii. Fourteen States participate in the hazardous liquid pipeline safety program (Note: As of January 1, 2018, there will be 15 states because Pennsylvania has notified its intent to apply). Fewer States participate in the liquid program due to the significantly lower number of miles of liquid pipelines.
Federal pipeline statutes provide for exclusive Federal authority to regulate interstate pipelines. OPS may authorize a State to act as its agent to inspect interstate pipelines, 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.
Four 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 facilities and in the sitting, construction, operation, and maintenance of LNG facilities.
- Set out parameters for administering the pipeline safety program.
- Delineate requirements for onshore oil pipeline response plans.
State Pipeline Safety Programs
- Adopt the federal regulations.
- May issue more stringent regulations for intrastate pipeline operators under state law.
- National Association of Pipeline Safety Representative Compendium.