Federal / State Partnerships
The U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA), acting through its Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS), administers the national regulatory program to assure safe transportation of natural gas, petroleum, and other hazardous materials by pipeline. The federal/state partnership is the cornerstone for assuring uniform implementation of the pipeline safety program nationwide.
Two statutes provide the framework for the federal pipeline safety program. The Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968, as amended, (NGPSA) authorizes DOT to regulate pipeline transportation of natural (flammable, toxic, or corrosive) gas and other gases as well as the transportation and storage of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Similarly, the Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Act of 1979 as amended (HLPSA) authorizes DOT to regulate pipeline transportation of hazardous liquids (crude oil, petroleum products, anhydrous ammonia, and carbon dioxide). Both of these Acts have been recodified as 49 U.S.C. Chapter 601.
While the Federal government is primarily responsible for developing, issuing, and enforcing pipeline safety regulations, the pipeline safety statutes provide for State acceptance of the intrastate regulatory, inspection, and enforcement responsibilities under an annual certification. To qualify for certification, a state must adopt the minimum Federal regulations and may adopt additional or more stringent regulations as long as they are not incompatible with the Federal regulations. A State must also provide for injunctive and monetary sanctions substantially the same as those authorized by the Federal pipeline safety statutes. The State must also encourage and promote the establishment of a program designed to prevent damage by demolition, excavation, tunneling, or construction activity to the pipeline facilities to which the certification applies, that subjects persons who violate the applicable requirements of that program to civil penalties and other enforcement actions.
A state agency which does not satisfy the criteria for certification may enter into an agreement to undertake certain aspects of the pipeline safety program for intrastate facilities on behalf of OPS. While the state agency under an agreement will inspect pipeline operators to ascertain compliance with Federal safety regulations, any probable violations are reported to OPS for enforcement action.
Federal pipeline statutes provide for exclusive Federal authority to regulate interstate pipelines. OPS may authorize a State to act as its agent through an agreement to inspect interstate pipelines, but retains responsibility for enforcement of the regulations.
State Pipeline Safety Programs
See Appendix F of PHMSA’s Guidelines for a list of states that participate in the Federal/State Cooperative Gas and Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Programs.