Massive Power Grab Proposed by Obama DOT: Regulate Gathering Lines

Last week the Obama Dept. of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) released a breathtaking expansion of federal power over the individual states. It is yet another in a long line of power grabs by the federal government under the reign of Our Dear Leader. The PHMSA is charged with overseeing the safety of the nation’s interstate pipelines. Until now, local gathering pipelines–the small lines that run to individual oil and gas wells–has been properly regulated by the individual states in which they reside. In some cases states, like Pennsylvania, don’t regulate gathering lines–a situation the state is attempting to rectify (see NEPA State Senator Introduces Bill to Regulate Rural Pipelines). Regardless–it’s not the proper role of the federal government to usurp a state’s rights to regulate the oil and gas industry, which is what this latest move attempts to do. Last week the PHMSA released a draft of new regulations (i.e. unlegislated laws) to regulate natural gas pipelines–both interstate and local, gathering lines (full copy of the 549-page draft in included below). According to the legal beagles at top oil and gas firm Babst Calland, “PHMSA is proposing to change the definition of an onshore gas gathering line, to partially repeal the longstanding exemption for rural gathering lines, and to extend the federal reporting requirements to all gas gathering lines (whether regulated or not).” Our opinion: whether they say they are regulating gathering lines or not, by requiring reporting, the PHMSA is defacto regulating those lines…

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