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State Gas Pipelines Federal and State Responsibili

Making State Gas Pipelines Safe and Reliable: An Assessment of State Policy

March 2011 | By Jacquelyn Pless

Federal and State Responsibilities

Both federal and state agencies regulate pipelines across the United States. Interstate pipelines are managed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regulates pipelines, storage, natural gas transportation in interstate commerce, and liquefied natural gas facility construction. It also oversees operation of pipeline facilities at U.S. points of entry for natural gas imports and exports and analyzes environmental impacts of natural gas projects.

Once natural gas pipeline projects are operating, the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA), acting through the Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS), regulates, monitors and enforces safety. The OPS collaborates with partnering agencies and departments to ensure pipeline operation safety, security, monitoring and compliance. As of June 2010, 88 full-time PHMSA pipeline inspectors were employed to conduct the comprehensive OPS inspection and enforcement program to ensure that pipeline operators comply with all safety regulations.4

Although the federal government is responsible for developing, issuing and enforcing pipeline safety regulations, most inspections are conducted by state regulatory agencies, which are responsible for regulation, inspection and enforcement of pipelines within state boundaries. The state agency regulations must be at least as stringent as the federal regulations. Many states experience more pipeline-related incidents than others, however, and may wish to consider strengthening their oversight standards.

OPS or PHMSA certifies state agencies annually to perform their regulatory duties, and OPS also can authorize states to inspect interstate pipelines, although it retains enforcement responsibilities. Arizona, Connecticut, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Washington and West Virginia are authorized to act as interstate agents.

Recent accidents and increasing dependence on U.S. natural gas supplies have sharpened concern for pipeline security and safety. After a natural gas pipeline explosion in California in September 2010, state lawmakers discussed changing state law to increase oversight of natural gas pipelines during a legislative hearing in October 2010. Several incidents in Pennsylvania raise questions about the safety of the nation’s massive, aging infrastructure. Investigators are seeking the exact trigger of the most recent explosion and at least three pending pieces of legislation in Pennsylvania (HB 102, SB 325 and HB 344) would provide for civil penalties for gas pipeline safety violations and regulation of certain operators.

Alaska and Hawaii are the only states completely regulated by OPS. This chart outlines which state agencies regulate interstate and intrastate gas and hazardous liquid pipelines.

PHMSA recently released a report that includes 56 recommendations to guide key stakeholders such as local government, property owners, pipeline operators, and real estate commissions on how to improve their safety efforts. The report focuses on transparency and information-sharing. To access its full text, please click here.

Regulation of Interstate and Intrastate Gas and Hazardous Liquid Pipelines

Pipeline Regulation
State
Jurisdiction
Agency Interstate Gas   Intrastate Gas   Interstate Hazardous Liquid   Intrastate Hazardous Liquid  

 

 

OPS

State

OPS

State

OPS

State

OPS

State

Alabama

Gas Pipeline Safety Section, PUC

X

 

 

X

X

 

 

X

Alaska

All OPS-regulated

X

 

X

 

X

 

X

 

Arizona

Pipeline Safety Section, Gas Services Division, Arizona Corporate Commission

 

X

 

X

 

X

 

X

Arkansas

Pipeline Safety Section, PSC

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

California

California Office of the State Fire Marshal

X

 

 

X

 

X

 

X

Colorado

Gas Pipeline Safety Division, PUC

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

Connecticut

PUC

 

X

 

X

X

 

X

 

Delaware

PSC

X

 

Agreement

X

X

 

X

 

Florida

PUC

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

Georgia

Pipeline Safety Office, PUC

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

Hawaii

All OPS-regulated

X

 

X

 

X

 

X

 

Idaho

Gas Pipeline Safety Division, PUC

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

Illinois

Pipeline Safety Division, Illinois Commerce Commission

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

Indiana

Pipeline Safety Division, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

Iowa

Safety and Engineering Section, Iowa Utilities Board

 

X

 

X

X

 

X

 

Kansas

Pipeline Safety Division, Kansas Commerce Commission

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

Kentucky

Gas Branch, PUC

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

Agreement

Louisiana

Office of Conservation, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources

X

 

 

X

X

 

 

X

Maine

Gas Safety Division, PUC

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

Maryland

Pipeline Safety Division, PUC

X

 

 

X

X

 

 

X

Massachusetts

Pipeline Engineering/Safety Division, Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

Michigan

Gas Safety Office, PUC

 

X

 

X

X

 

X

 

Minnesota

Office of Pipeline Safety, State Fire Marshal Division, Minnesota Department of Public Safety

 

X

 

X

 

X

 

X

Mississippi

PUC

X

 

 

X

X

 

 

X

Missouri

Gas Safety and Engineering Division, PUC

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

Montana

Gas Pipeline Safety Division, PUC

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

Nebraska

Deputy State Fire Marshals, Fuels Division, Nebraska State Fire Marshals Office

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

Nevada

Gas Pipeline Safety Division, PUC

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

New Hampshire

Pipeline Safety Division, PUC

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

New Jersey

Bureau of Pipeline Safety, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

New Mexico

Pipeline Safety Bureau, Transportation Division, New Mexico Public Regulation Commission

X

 

 

X

X

 

 

Agreement

New York

Office of Gas and Water, New York State Department of Public Service

 

X

 

X

 

X

 

X

North Carolina

Pipeline Safety Section, North Carolina Utility Commission

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

North Dakota

Testing and Safety Division, PSC

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

Ohio

Gas Pipeline Safety Section, PUC

 

X

 

X

X

 

X

 

Oklahoma

Pipeline Safety Section, Gas Services Division, Oklahoma Corporation Commission

X

 

 

X

X

 

 

X

Oregon

Gas Pipeline Safety Division, PUC

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

Pennsylvania

Gas Safety Division, Bureau of Transportation and Safety, PUC

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

Rhode Island

Gas Safety Division, PUC

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

South Carolina

Pipeline Safety Office, PUC

X

 

 

X

X

 

 

Agreement

South Dakota

Pipeline Safety Division, PUC

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

Tennessee

Gas Pipeline Safety Division, Tennessee Regulatory Authority

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

Texas

Pipeline Safety Section, Gas Services Division, Texas Railroad Commission

X

 

 

X

X

 

 

X

Utah

Gas Pipeline Safety Division, PUC

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

Vermont

Director of Engineering, Vermont Department of Public Service

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

Virginia

Division of Utility and Railroad Safety, Virginia State Corporation Commission

X

 

 

X

 

X

 

X

Washington

Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission

 

X

 

X

 

X

 

X

West Virginia

West Virginia Public Service Commission

 

X

 

X

X

 

 

X

Wisconsin

Pipeline Safety Program, Natural Gas Division, Wisconsin Public Service Commission

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

Wyoming

Gas Pipeline Safety Division, PUC

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

District of Columbia

PUC

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

Source: Office of Pipeline Safety, PHMSA Pipeline Safety Program (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Transportation, n.d.); http://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/comm/.


U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Program, Stakeholder Communications, Inspection (Washington, D.C.: U.S. DOT, n.d.); http://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/comm/InspectionEnforcement.htm.

March 2011

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