Pipeline Safety Oversight in the United States
- Liquid petroleum pipelines carry crude oil and refined petroleum products (gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, heating oil, etc.) across state and even country borders (interstate & international) as well as within states (intrastate).
- Pipelines are widely acknowledged to be the safest and most efficient way to move energy products overland for long distances; crude oil and natural gas from production areas to processing plants and refineries, and consumer-ready products to markets.
- All pipeline safety is regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).
- What pipeline operators may charge for transportation is regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). FERC has siting authority for electric transmission lines and interstate natural gas pipelines but not for oil pipelines.
- States may choose to regulate the rates and safety of intrastate pipelines (most usually natural gas utility pipelines), but are preempted by federal laws from regulating interstate pipeline safety.
- Liquid petroleum pipelines have been subject to PHMSA safety regulations since 1970. PHMSA’s regulations include comprehensive requirements addressing pipeline design, construction, operation, inspection, maintenance, repair and emergency response.