Pipeline valve requirements of new PHMSA rule in litigation

Two years after advisory committees to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration recommended that gas gathering lines be excluded from a proposed valve rule, the final version included a costly requirement for GPA Midstream Association members.

PHMSA’s “Pipeline Safety: Requirement of Valve Installation and Minimum Detection Standards” regulation, as laid out in the Federal Register this spring, calls for new or entirely replaced natural gas pipeline valves of six inches in diameter or more to have rupture mitigation valves.

GPA Midstream and the American Petroleum Institute filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Transportation and PHMSA in the federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia for a review of the final rule.

In 2020, PHMSA’s Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee unanimously recommended that the agency either exclude the gas gathering pipelines from the rule or address them in a separate rulemaking proceeding.

In that recommendation, the association pointed out that the congressional mandate being followed by PHMSA was intended for high-pressure transmission lines and not gathering lines. In addition, the agency estimated the industry's cost to apply the rule to gathering lines at about $3 million, despite a decades-old study showing it would cost more than $600 million to implement.

Likewise, the Liquid Pipeline Advisory Committee joined its sister committee in questioning application of the rule to gathering lines.

The U.S. Congress specifically did not include gathering lines in its mandate, and we are holding PHMSA to the rule of law because it overstepped its authority and the recommendations of its committees.

The next step in the ongoing litigation is to file briefs with the court in October. GPA Midstream will continue to fight and advocate for its members.