Congress grants the U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT) specific authority to define gathering lines for purposes of safety regulation and to regulate a class of rural gathering lines called "regulated gathering lines" (49 U.S.C. 60101(a) (21) and 60101(b)). This authority directed US DOT to consider functional and operational characteristics in defining gathering lines. Subsequently, US DOT revised its regulations in Part 195 to cover hazardous liquid gathering lines in non-rural areas. The rural onshore hazardous liquid gathering lines are those that present the greatest risk to the environment. The new § 195.11(a) define a "regulated rural gathering line" as a rural onshore gathering line with the following characteristics:
- Has a nominal diameter between 6 5/8 inches and 8 5/8 inches;
- Is located in or within one-quarter mile of an unusually sensitive area (USA) as defined in § 195.6; and
- Operates at a maximum operating pressure established under § 195.406 that corresponds to (1) A stress level greater than 20 percent of the specified minimum yield strength (SMYS), or (2) If the stress level is unknown or the pipeline is not constructed with steel pipe, at a pressure of more than 125 pounds per square inch (psi) gage.
Between 1992 and 1996, Congress amended the federal pipeline safety statute to require the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to prescribe regulations that establish criteria for identifying each hazardous liquid pipeline facility. The gathering line describes as unusually sensitive to environmental damage if there is a hazardous liquid pipeline accident and considers areas where a pipeline rupture would likely cause permanent or long-term environmental damage. To fulfill the legislative mandate, PHMSA held multiple public workshops to discuss the definitions for USAs. On February 20, 2001, PHMSA amended its regulations by adding a new definition of USA per § 195.2 and § 195.6. PHMSA establishes the criteria for using the USA definition in the following regulations: Integrity Management Rule, Risk-based Alternative to Pressure Testing Older Hazardous Liquid and Carbon Dioxide Pipelines, Response Plans for Onshore Oil Pipelines under 49 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) Part 194, Area Contingency Plans, and Low-Stress Pipelines in which the initial Unusually Sensitive Areas (USAs) dataset was developed in 2000-2002.
The PIPES Act of 2016, Congress requires PHMSA to expand the definition of an Ecological resource USA to include the Great Lakes, coastal beaches, and marine coastal waters. All USAs are treated as high consequence areas (HCAs). Subsequently, PHMSA has been updating the USAs dataset since 2017. According to the Unusually Sensitive Areas for Ecological Resources guideline, the PHMSA and its contractors conducted a thorough analysis with various regulatory and resources agencies, pipeline operators, private contractors, non-profit conservation organizations, academia, and the general public. They developed a comprehensive process to identify the USAs for ecological resources. The result is the revised dataset that serves as a baseline to identify the USAs. This dataset was finalized and is published on the National Pipeline Mapping System.
Due to the recently updated dataset, operators are expected to evaluate their crude oil gathering system and identify pipelines subject to the safety requirements described in 49 C.F.R., § 195.11.
- The jurisdictional determination could change in the future if the operating conditions change in the pipeline or changes in applicable law occur.
Step 1: Jurisdictional Evaluation Request
The operator shall submit a jurisdictional evaluation request to the OSFM, Pipeline Safety Division, Assistant Deputy Director via the Pipeline Notification email: (email@example.com).
The notification must request to evaluate the jurisdictional status of the subject pipeline, specify which code section an operator requested to review, and must provide the following information about the pipeline:
- OSFM pipeline identification number (e.g. PLID #0000)
- Pipeline segment with nominal diameter from 6 5/8” to 8 5/8” per § 195.11(a)(1).
- Aerial map showing the location of the subject pipeline, navigable waterway, incorporated and unincorporated city limit, and the one-quarter mile buffer of USAs according to § 195.11(a)(2).
- Operating records showing the commodity transported in the pipeline.
- Specified Minimum Yield Strength (SMYS).
- The highest operating pressure (OP) experienced in the percentage of SMYS.
- Maximum operating pressure (MOP) of subject pipeline in the percentage of SMYS per § 19511(a)(3).
Step 2: Field Inspection(s) and/or Records Review
Upon receipt of the request, the OSFM may conduct field inspection(s) to verify the supporting documents' information.
Step 3: Approval
Upon approval, the OSFM will confirm the jurisdictional determination of the subject pipeline in a letter.
The OSFM is available to discuss the Jurisdictional Evaluation program with any operator in a virtual meeting.
Virtual Meeting Contact:
Supervising Pipeline Safety Engineer