By Marc Campopiano and Samantha Seikkula

On June 22, 2016, President Obama signed a bill reauthorizing the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) oil and gas pipeline programs through 2019. Obama’s final stamp on the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016 (PIPES Act or Act) follows unanimous passage in both the House and Senate. In addition to reauthorizing PHMSA and its associated programs, the Act includes new mandates aimed at strengthening PHMSA’s existing safety procedures and programs.

Pipeline Safety After the completion of a PHMSA pipeline safety inspection, the Act requires the Comptroller General to submit reports to Congress regarding the integrity management programs for gas and hazardous liquid pipeline facilities.  The reports must include, among other requirements: an analysis of technical, operational, and economic feasibility regarding measures to enhance pipeline facility safety; an analysis of the pipeline facility features’ impact on safety; and a description of any challenges affecting Federal and State regulators in the oversight of pipeline facilities.

By Janice Schneider, Buck Endemann, and Jennifer Roy

On October 22, 2012, the Ninth Circuit vacated certain federal authorizations for the Ruby Pipeline, a completed natural gas pipeline running from Wyoming to Oregon.  The Court concluded that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) Biological Opinion (BiOp) failed to comply with the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).[1]  The Court also found that the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Record of Decision (ROD) relying on the