PHMSA Investing $15M for Pipeline Safety


On Tuesday (Sept. 19), the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration announced the award of $14.8 million in grants to fund projects that improve pipeline safety.

These grants will reportedly support important pipeline safety training and educational programs, as well as the advancement of pipeline safety technologies.

“To ensure the safety of the world’s largest pipeline system—we need every level of government and the non-profit sector working to mitigate risk,” said PHMSA Deputy Administrator Tristan Brown. “These grants will provide states, non-profits, first responders and academic institutions with the resources necessary to better protect the public.” 

PHMSA is awarding grants for five of its programs across the country, including:

  • $1.1 million in One-Call Grants to provide funding to state agencies in promoting damage prevention, including changes with their state underground damage prevention laws, related compliance activities, training, and public education;
  • $1.5 million in State Damage Prevention Program Grants for states to establish or improve state programs designed to prevent damage to underground pipelines;
  • $2 million in Technical Assistance Grants to local communities and groups of individuals (not including for-profit entities) for technical assistance related to pipeline safety. Technical assistance is defined as engineering or other scientific analysis of pipeline safety issues;
  • $4.3 million of Competitive Academic Agreement Program (CAAP) funding to six collegiate institutions including Texas A&M University, University of Akron, Rutgers University, Arizona State University, Marquette University, and University of Miami. The CAAP grants will support research aimed at improving the safety of carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and particularly older, higher risk pipelines by improving pipeline coatings and advancing our understanding of the risks associated with geographic proximities to pipeline incidents; and
  • $5.8 million in Pipeline Emergency Response Grants for incident response activities related to the transportation of gas or hazardous liquids by pipelines. This award is critical to ensuring the safe transportation of hazardous materials by training emergency responders to respond to pipeline incidents.

According to the administration, the grants were part of the bipartisan Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2020. The funding is in addition to the $64.4 million that PHMSA awarded to support state-pipeline and underground natural gas storage safety operations earlier this year.

Recent Proposed Regulations

At the end of last month, the PHMSA proposed a new rulemaking to strengthen safety requirements for millions of miles of gas distribution pipelines. These changes reportedly aim to improve safety and mitigate risk through the improvement of emergency response plans, integrity management plans, operation manuals and more.

This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking implements Congressionally mandated revisions from the Leonel Rondon Pipeline Safety Act—enacted as part of the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of 2020, as well as to address National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations.

According to the administration, major pieces of the proposal include:

  • Improving construction procedures designed to minimize the risk of incidents caused by system over-pressurization;
  • Updating Distribution Integrity Management Programs to cover and prepare for over-pressurization incidents;
  • Requiring new regulator stations to be designed with secondary pressure relief valves and remote gas monitoring, to better prepare gas distribution systems to avoid over pressurizations, and limit damage during incidents; and
  • Strengthening emergency response plans for gas pipeline emergencies, including requirements for operators to contact local emergency responders and keep customers and the affected public informed of what to do in the event of an emergency.

Additionally, the rule reportedly builds on other national and international actions advanced by Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration to reduce methane emissions, including the U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan and the $1 billion Natural Gas Distribution Infrastructure Safety and Modernization grant program.

Safety and Modernization Grants

In April, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the PHMSA announced $196 million in funding from a new grant program to improve public safety, protect public health, and reduce methane emissions from natural gas distribution pipes.

The funding was awarded to 37 projects across 19 states through the Natural Gas Distribution Infrastructure Safety and Modernization program, which was established by the bipartisan infrastructure law.

The grant program will reportedly provide nearly $1 billion in funding over the course of five years to modernize municipally and community-owned natural gas distribution pipes, helping to keep communities across the country safe from pipeline leaks.

For the latest round of projects, the grants are anticipated to repair, replace, or rehabilitate nearly 270 miles of pipe, thereby reducing methane emissions by approximately 212 metric tons, annually.


Tagged categories: Education; Funding; Grants; Hazards; Health & Safety; Health and safety; NA; North America; Oil and Gas; PHMSA; Pipeline; Pipelines; Pipes; Program/Project Management; Regulations; Rehabilitation/Repair; Safety; Transportation; Worker training

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