PHMSA published a notice of issuance of an Advisory Bulletin on June 10, 2021, reminding pipeline operators of the requirements to reduce methane emissions. It has been submitted to the Office of the Federal Register for publication.
“Minimizing methane emissions from pipelines will help improve safety and combat climate change, while creating jobs for pipeline workers,” said PHMSA Acting Administrator Tristan Brown. “Pipeline operators have an obligation to protect the public and the environment by identifying and addressing methane leaks.”
PHMSA summarizes the bulletin as follows:
PHMSA is issuing this advisory bulletin to remind each owner and operator of a pipeline facility that the “Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2020” (PIPES Act of 2020) contains a self-executing mandate requiring operators to update their inspection and maintenance plans to address eliminating hazardous leaks and minimizing releases of natural gas (including intentional venting during normal operations) from their pipeline facilities. Operators must also revise their plans to address the replacement or remediation of pipeline facilities that are known to leak based on their material, design, or past operating and maintenance history. The statute requires pipeline operators to complete these updates by December 27, 2021.
In a coordinating post on June 7, PHMSA said pipelines made from cast iron, bare steel, certain vintage plastic, and other legacy materials are “known to cause a disproportionately large share of incidents involving methane leaks.” In related news, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce new regulations this fall requiring operators to cut methane emissions by at least 45% below 2012 levels by 2025.