On 19 October 2017, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced an additional comment period on its 19 December 2016 interim final rule (IFR) that established minimum federal safety standards for underground natural gas storage facilities. The PHMSA will accept comments until 20 November 2017. This notice comes amid the current administration's executive orders on deregulation and a recent Department of Transportation request for comment on regulatory reform.
In the notice, the PHMSA explains that it reopened the comment period in response to an 18 January 2017 petition for reconsideration jointly filed by industry trade groups the American Gas Association, the American Petroleum Institute (API), the American Public Gas Association, and the Interstate Natural Gas Association. The petition asked PHMSA to reconsider the IFR because, among other things, it made mandatory API Recommended Practice 1171 recommendations that were previously voluntary.
The PHMSA announced in June 2017 that it will not enforce parts of the newly written regulations that are the subject of the petition and that it plans to address the issues raised by the petition, as well as issues raised in other comments it receives, in a final rule that it expects to publish by 31 January 2018. The PHMSA also recently formally extended the deadline for operators to submit their first underground natural gas storage facility annual reports to 15 March 2018, which were originally due 18 July 2017.
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