The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is the federal agency responsible for administering the nation’s pipeline safety laws. As part of its obligations, PHMSA establishes minimum federal safety standards for gas and hazardous liquid pipelines and liquefied natural gas facilities. PHMSA also performs inspections and initiates administrative enforcement actions to ensure that regulated pipeline operators are complying with these standards.
PHMSA proposed more than $9.7 million in civil penalties for pipeline safety violations in 2013, the highest annual amount in its history. These figures are projected to increase in the coming years, primarily as a result of the new civil penalty authority that PHMSA received in the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 (Act), the most recent reauthorization of the federal pipeline safety laws. Specifically, the Act doubled the maximum civil penalty that PHMSA can impose for a pipeline safety violation in an administrative proceeding, from $100,000 to $200,000 per violation, and from $1,000,000 to $2,000,000 for any related series of violations. PHMSA is also urging the state authorities that participate in the federal pipeline safety program to adopt similar penalty amounts for pipeline safety violations.
Keith Coyle and Brianne Kurdock will be discussing these topics and other recent trends and developments in pipeline safety enforcement. Some of the items that will be covered include:
- PHMSA’s recent changes to the pipeline safety enforcement procedures in 49 C.F.R. Part 190.
- Significant final orders and decisions issued by the Associate Administrator for Pipeline Safety.
- Recent challenges to PHMSA’s enforcement authority and the Act’s new judicial review provision.
- Other noteworthy pipeline safety enforcement and compliance developments.
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