The federal pipeline safety statutes found at 49 U.S.C. § 60101 et seq., require the Secretary of Transportation to establish minimum federal safety standards for pipeline transportation and pipeline facilities. The Secretary is further authorized to delegate to an appropriate state agency the authority to prescribe safety standards and enforce compliance with such standards over jurisdictional pipeline facilities used for intrastate transportation.
The State Corporation Commission has been designated as the appropriate state agency for the Commonwealth of Virginia to prescribe and enforce compliance with standards for jurisdictional pipeline facilities used for intrastate transportation. In Case No. PUE-1989-00052*, the Commission adopted Parts 191, 192, 193, and 199 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations to serve as minimum gas pipeline safety standards in Virginia. The Commission is authorized to enforce the standards for natural gas facilities under § 56-257.2 B of the Code of Virginia, which allows the Commission to impose the fines and penalties authorized therein.
In Case No. PUE-1994-00070, the Commission adopted Parts 195 and 199 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations to serve as minimum intrastate hazardous liquids pipeline safety standards. The Commission is authorized to enforce the standards for liquid pipeline facilities under § 56-555 of the Code, which allows the Commission to impose the fines and penalties authorized therein.
The Commission's Division of Utility and Railroad Safety is charged with the investigation of each jurisdictional operator's compliance with the safety standards.
Currently in Virginia, this includes gas gathering, gas distribution (including certain master metered and liquefied petroleum gas systems). In addition, the Division inspects liquefied natural gas, hazardous liquid pipelines, certain renewable natural gas pipelines, and gas transmission pipelines. The Division acts as an Interstate Agent for the U.S. Department of Transportation for certain interstate gas transmission projects and all interstate hazardous liquid pipelines. All other interstate gas pipelines and underground gas storage are subject to Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) jurisdiction.
Annually, the Division conducts various in-depth, comprehensive inspections of regulatory required programs and plans. This includes inspections of pipeline operator records of regulatory required operations, maintenance, and inspection activities. Additionally, the Division conducts robust field-based inspections of pipeline construction, facilities, operation, and maintenance activities.
Adopted Code of Federal Regulations:
- Part 191 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations
- Part 192 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations
- Part 193 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations
- Part 195 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations
- Part 199 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations
Pipeline Safety Program Metrics - Reference document describing Virginia operator information, operator and infrastructure make up, pipeline safety enforcement metrics, and the Commission’s pipeline safety program performance.
Commission Guidance Material:
- Procedural Guidelines for Enforcement of Pipeline Safety Standards
- Liquefied Petroleum Gas: A Guide to Understanding Regulatory Requirements in Virginia
- PHMSA Home Page - The federal agency that establishes national policy, sets and enforces standards, educates, and conducts research to prevent incidents.
- PHMSA Pipeline Mileage and Facilities (including Annual Reports with Operator ID and contact information)
- PHMSA Pipeline Operator ID and Contact Information Search
- PHMSA National Pipeline Mapping System (transmission pipelines) Operator ID (OPID) Lookup
- PHMSA Overview of Virginia Operators and State Regulatory Performance
- National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives (NAPSR) - The national association representing State Pipeline Safety Programs which participate in the Federal/State partnership with PHMSA.
- National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS) - A dataset containing locations of and information about gas transmission and hazardous liquid pipelines and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plants which are under the jurisdiction of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) or its State Partners. NPMS does not have mapping data on distribution systems. Visit the Division of Public Utility Regulation’s Regulated Companies and Service Map page to view service maps of natural gas distribution systems.
- Federal Energy Regulatory (FERC) - The federal agency that regulates the interstate transmission of natural gas, oil, and electricity. FERC also regulates natural gas and hydropower projects.
- Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) - The environmental agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia. DEQ is responsible for administering laws and regulations related to air quality, water quality, water supply, renewable energy and land protection.
- Virginia Department of Energy (VA Energy) - Formerly the Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy, now known as Virginia Department of Energy branded VA Energy, its role is to enhance the development and conservation of energy and mineral resources. VA Energy oversees certain production and storage facilities of natural gas amongst missions.
- US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) - Federal agency responsible for reviewing pipeline activities that may affect federally regulated waters and wetlands.
Pipeline permitting and approval processes are dependent on the type, commodity, and jurisdictionality of the pipeline. Therefore, some projects may or may not require review by the Commission, FERC, DEQ, USACE, or other authorities having jurisdiction over the permitting process. Please contact email@example.com for assistance.
*Past Commission cases can be searched using the Commission’s Docket Search.