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AGC Submits Comments to PHMSA on Damage Prevention Program Rule

June 4, 2012
AGC Submitted comments on a proposed rule issued by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) that addressed federal enforcement of state damage prevention laws. This proposed rule establishes the criteria for determining the adequacy of state enforcement of pipeline damage prevention laws and proposes a process for federal enforcement under the authority of the Pipeline Inspection, Protection, Safety, and Enforcement (PIPES) Act of 2006. AGC’s comments called for additional scrutiny of the owner/operator and locator’s role in damage prevention to better reflect all nine elements of an effective damage prevention program as outlined in the PIPES Act. AGC asked PHMSA to encourage State regulatory authorities to equally enforce state laws applicable to underground facility owners and operators who fail to respond to a location request or fail to take reasonable steps, in response to such a request. Accurate and timely enforcement will help all parties ensure accurate marking and locating of the pipeline facility to prevent damage. Unfortunately, locating and marking duties are all too often neglected or performed inadequately by underground facility operators and the contract locators retained by them. It is absolutely critical that enforcement of these requirements be a high priority for state authorities. AGC also called for:
  • A bottom up approach to damage prevention located first and foremost in the states
  • A process by which the federal government relinquishes enforcement authority if the state can demonstrate improvements in its damage prevention program in the interim between its annual reviews
  • More formal and extensive protections for contractors (including formal rules of evidence, transcriptions, and evidence discovery) in the federal adjudication process after being cited for a damage
  • A federal presumption against exemptions to one-call laws (without data to support their existence) when evaluating the effectiveness of a state’s law
AGC will continue to track this rule as it goes through the process and work closely with PHMSA as they develop the final rule. Read AGC’s comments on the PHMSA proposed rule here. For more information contact Scott Berry at (703) 837-5321 or berrys@agc.org
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