Compliance Deadlines Approaching: Pipeline Safety Mega Rule

February 21, 2024

Regulators are looking at a ticking time clock for covered entities in the gas transmission industry to ensure their compliance with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s “Mega Rule” — a rulemaking trilogy intended to improve the safety of onshore gas transmission pipelines.

The Mega Rule addresses safety recommendations and congressional directives following the Sept. 9, 2010, Pacific Gas and Electric Company pipeline rupture and fire in San Bruno, California. See generally Pipeline Accident Report, NTSB/PAR-11/01 PB 2011-916501. In doing so, the Mega Rule revises the pipeline safety regulations that PHMSA issued under Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 192.

For example, in 2011, Congress enacted the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act, which required PHMSA to make several regulatory changes to improve pipeline safety. PHMSA went on to address those changes in its advance notice of proposed rulemaking, dated Aug. 25, 2011, as well as its notice of proposed rulemaking, issued April 8, 2016. Other legislation, including the Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016 signed by then-President Barack Obama, as well as the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety of 2020 signed by then-President Donald Trump, added other requirements.

The Mega Rule represents years of collective work that incorporates input from stakeholders, including those in the pipeline industry, public interest groups and government entities. Promulgated Oct. 1, 2019, with an effective date of July 1, 2020, Part I primarily concerns maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) and integrity management near high-consequence areas (HCAs) for onshore gas transmission pipelines. Promulgated Nov. 15, 2021, with an effective date of May 16, 2022, Part II extends federal safety requirements to onshore gas gathering pipelines with large diameters and high operating pressures. Lastly, finalized Aug. 24, 2022 with an effective date of May 24, 2023, Part III applies to onshore gas transmission pipelines and clarifies integrity management regulations, corrosion control requirements, repair criteria for both HCA and non-HCA pipelines, and inspection following extreme weather events, among other things.

With all three parts of the Mega Rule finalized and effective, the onus is now on transmission companies to comply with the Mega Rule’s various requirements. While the Mega Rule certainly will impact all gas transmission companies, compliance timelines and costs for each individual company may vary significantly. To aid with compliance generally, the chart below reflects several important upcoming deadlines that transmission companies should keep in mind:

Rule PartEffective DateCompliance DescriptionCompliance Deadline/Enforcement Discretion
Part IJuly 1, 2020MAOP verification of previously grandfathered pipelines50% of pipeline mileage remediated by July 3, 2028; 100% of pipeline mileage remediated by July 2, 2035  
Part IJuly 1, 2020New population classification (moderate-consequence areas)Operators must perform an initial assessment for all applicable pipeline segments by July 3, 2034, as well as complete periodic reassessments at least once every 10 years
Part IIMay 16, 2022Annual reportsMust be submitted each year, not later than March 15, for the preceding calendar year (beginning in March 2023 for the 2022 calendar year)
Part IIMay 16, 2022Incident ReportsAs soon as practicable but not more than 30 days after detection of an incident required to be reported under § 191.5 that occurs after May 16, 2022
Part IIIMay 24, 2023Management of change process improvements (for all pipeline segments, not just HCAs)Must be implemented by Feb. 26, 2024
Part IIIMay 24, 2023Additional internal and external corrosion requirements (e.g., gas stream sampling and internal corrosion monitoring results)Beginning Feb. 26, 2024

*The chart above is a sampling of the Mega Rule’s many requirements stemming from changes to 49 CFR Part 192.