USDOT Proposes Updates to Gas Distribution Pipeline Regulations

Training & Events

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) today announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to strengthen safety requirements for millions of miles of gas distribution pipelines.

These proposed changes aim to improve safety and mitigate risk through the improvement of emergency response plans, integrity management plans, operation manuals and more. This proposal comes after the tragic Merrimack Valley incident, which injured dozens and resulted in one fatality.

This NPRM implements Congressionally mandated revisions from the Leonel Rondon Pipeline Safety Act—enacted as part of the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of 2020 as well as to address National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations.

Major pieces of the proposal include:

  • Improving construction procedures designed to minimize the risk of incidents caused by system over-pressurization.
  • Updating Distribution Integrity Management Programs to cover and prepare for over-pressurization incidents.
  • Requiring new regulator stations to be designed with secondary pressure relief valves and remote gas monitoring, to better prepare gas distribution systems to avoid over pressurizations, and limit damage during incidents.

Strengthening emergency response plans for gas pipeline emergencies, including requirements for operators to contact local emergency responders and keep customers and the affected public informed of what to do in the event of an emergency.

“This proposal incorporates lessons from the 2018 Merrimack Valley tragedy to help ensure something like that never happens again,” said PHMSA Deputy Administrator Tristan Brown. “These changes will protect communities and the environment, as well as lower energy costs for consumers.”

USDOT Proposes Updates to Gas Distribution Pipeline Regulations