Energy, Regulatory Developments

New PIPES Law Lights Fire under PHMSA

On June 22, 2016, President Obama signed the Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act (PIPES Act). The law, which received strong bipartisan support, extends and funds through 2019 the gas and hazardous liquid pipeline safety program implemented by the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

Included in the PIPES Act are minimum safety regulations for underground natural gas storage facilities. These first-time requirements were heavily motivated by an accidental release of methane in October 2015 from Southern California Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon gas storage site near Los Angeles. The release continued for 3 months, and before it was sealed, it reportedly emitted over 97,000 metric tons of methane, the largest release of uncombusted methane in U.S. history.

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