This is a resource page for information about the regulators and builders of shale gas infrastructure.
There are two national agencies that oversee pipelines: FERC (The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) reviews applications for the construction and pricing of energy infrastructure. PHMSA (Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, known as “FIM-sah”) oversees the operation of pipelines once constructed. The EPA is also tangentially involved in that it can direct FERC about what to review, though FERC has a track record of flouting such direction. State and local agencies will also be consulted on certain pipelines for their sign-off on specific impacts such as water quality, historical and cultural resources, etc.
Please note that FERC does not take into account how any company has actually performed in the past; they operate on the basis of what is submitted in their application. All a company needs to say is that it will follow the regulations (which the industry has by and large written). What these track records say loud and clear is how inadequate the regulations are, and how inadequate governmental oversight is.
The situation with PHMSA is even worse: Jeffrey Wiese, a safety administrator at the agency, has been straightforward, noting the regulatory process he oversees is “kind of dying.” He has said, “Do I think I can hurt a major international corporation with a $2 million civil penalty? No.” Underfunded and starved to ineffectuality since the Reagan deregulation days, the agency is woefully understaffed and heavily relies on field reports provided by the industry itself.
The best summary we’ve read about the regulation of pipelines remains the 2010 Remapping Debate report, which outlines such relevant issues such as “de-rating,” industry resistance to safety valves, underfunding, and inaccurate pipeline mapping.
Kinder Morgan (aka TGP)
Feds Cite Spectra for Multiple Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Violations, Natural Gas Watch