Gas gathering industry opposes proposed leak detection and repair rules for pipelines

Earlier this year, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a proposed rule containing new leak detection and repair (LDAR) standards for gas pipelines. In developing these standards, PHMSA failed to comply with risk assessment requirements in the Pipeline Safety Act and included other proposals that lacked adequate legal, technical, and evidentiary support.

These deficiencies prompted the GPA Midstream Association to partner with nine other industry organizations in filing comments opposing the proposed rules.

Citing the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decision in GPA Midstream Ass’n v. United States Dep’t of Transportation, the joint gas gathering industry commenters noted that PHMSA had committed a “serious error” in developing the proposed rule by failing to identify the regulatory and non-regulatory options considered, explain why the options identified were either selected or rejected, identify the associated costs and benefits, and describe the technical data or information relied upon.  

The gas gathering industry commenters also noted that PHMSA’s proposal to require gathering line operators to provide geospatial data and other information to the National Pipeline Mapping System violated a longstanding statutory exclusion in the Pipeline Safety Act.  

Finally, the gas gathering industry commenters noted that other aspects of the proposed LDAR standards were inconsistent with comparable standards administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, lacked adequate legal and evidentiary support, and were otherwise unreasonable, particularly with respect to the requirements for Type C gathering lines in Class 1 locations such as unpopulated areas.  

The American Petroleum Institute, Independent Petroleum Association of America, Marcellus Shale Coalition and oil and gas associations for Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas joined GPA Midstream in signing on to the gas gathering industry comments. In a separate filing of comments, GPA Midstream joined with associations representing the whole gas supply chain.  

PHMSA has scheduled a meeting of the Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee to consider the proposed LDAR rule for the week of Nov. 27. PHMSA hopes to issue a final rule in the proceedings sometime next year.