The Pipeline Inspection, Protection, Enforcement, and Safety Act of 2006

The 2006 legislation confirms the commitment to the Integrity Management Program (“IMP”) and other programs enacted in the 2002 legislation. The 2006 legislation includes provisions on:

  1. minimum standards for IMPs for distribution pipelines (including installation of excess flow valves on single family residential service lines on the basis of feasibility and risk);
  2. standards for managing gas and hazardous liquid pipelines to reduce risks associated with human factors (e.g., fatigue);
  3. authority for the Secretary to waive safety standards in emergencies
  4. authority for the Secretary to assist in restoration of disrupted pipeline operations;
  5. review and update of incident reporting requirements;
  6. requirements for senior executive officers to certify operator integrity management performance reports; and,
  7. clarification of jurisdiction between states and PHMSA for short laterals that feed industrial and electric generator consumers from interstate natural gas pipelines.

One of the primary focuses in the 2006 legislation is on preventing excavation damage to pipelines though the enhanced use and improved enforcement of state “One-call” laws, i.e., laws that preclude excavators from digging until they contact the state One-Call system to locate the underground pipe and from digging in disregard of markings.  Excavators must report any damage or gas escape caused by the digging. 

Violations are enforceable by DOT, including civil penalties.  Civil penalties are also available against any pipeline operator who fails to respond to a location request or fails to take steps, in response to such request, to ensure accurate marking of the pipeline location.  The legislation also authorizes state grants to improve the effectiveness of damage prevention programs, and grants to organizations that develop technologies for prevention of third party excavation damage.

The cost of the legislation's new requirements to natural gas pipeline companies alone was initially estimated to be $11 billion over 20 years.  Because the law allows OPS some discretion in the specification of assessment methodologies, OPS believes that the cost of implementation according to its specific rules will be considerably less – $4.7 billion over the same time period.  OPS estimated first-year implementation costs of the new regulations to be about $0.036 per thousand cubic feet.

For additional information, refer to Department of Transportation, Research and Special Programs Administration, Final Rule, Pipeline Safety: Pipeline Integrity Management in High Consequence Areas (Gas Transmission Pipelines), Docket No. RSPA-00-7666; Amendment 192-95; RIN 2137-AD54, pp 157 ff.