PHMSA adopts enforcement discretion for Coastal USA interim rules

In late October, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a new notice of enforcement discretion for the amendments to the “unusually sensitive area” (USA) requirements found in 49 C.F.R. § 195.6 that went into effect earlier this year. 

The new notice of enforcement discretion responds to a unanimous recommendation by the Liquid Pipeline Advisory Committee (LPAC) in August that PHMSA agree not to enforce the amended USA requirements as applied to offshore pipelines located between 3 and 12 nautical miles from the coastline.

Consistent with LPAC’s recommendation, the new notice indicates that the enforcement discretion for offshore lines will remain in effect until Aug. 17, 2023, or PHMSA issues the final rule, whichever is earlier.

PHMSA agreed to convene the LPAC meeting and issue a new final rule as part of a joint request by the GPA Midstream Association and American Petroleum Institute. In March, GPA Midstream and API requested the agency to hold in abeyance a petition for judicial review of the interim final rule.

As part of that earlier agreement, PHMSA issued a notice of enforcement discretion for the amended USA requirements as applied to regulated rural gathering lines and certain rural low-stress lines. That prior notice of enforcement discretion, issued on April 21, 2022, is not subject to the deadlines referenced in the new notice and should remain in effect until PHMSA issues the final rule.