On December 27, 2020, the President signed into law pipeline safety reauthorization legislation “Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES Act) of 2020” (Division R on Pg. 167). The PIPES Act identifies areas where Congress believes additional oversight, research, or regulations may be needed. As anticipated, several of the provisions outlined within the PIPES Act of 2020 related to the Merrimack Valley Incident which occurred in 2018.

Included within this act are new mandates for PHMSA require operators to update, as needed, their existing distribution integrity management plans, emergency response plans, and O&M plans. The Act also requires operators to manage records and update, as necessary their existing district regulator stations to eliminate a common mode of failure. PHMSA will also require that leak detection and repair programs consider the environment, the use of advance lead detection practices and technologies, and for operators to be able to locate and categorize all leaks that are hazardous to human safety, the environment, or can become hazardous. With regards to pending regulations, the new legislation would require PHMSA to publish Part 2 of the Transmission Rule within 90 days, and within 1 year review comments to the recent advance notice for proposed rulemaking on Class Location Changes. A full summary can be found here.