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Trade Groups Ask PHMSA for 60-Day Extension to Review Proposed New Rules

An alphabet soup of trade organizations representing the oil and gas industry have asked the Transportation Department's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to extend the public comment period for its proposed rules governing natural gas transmission and gathering lines by two months.

PHMSA issued a 549-page notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on March 17 (see Daily GPI, March 21), and industry experts predicted that the various stakeholders affected by the rules would ask for more time to review the NPRM's numerous proposals (see related story).

In a letter Friday, six organizations -- the American Gas Association (AGA), the American Petroleum Institute (API), the American Public Gas Association (APGA), the Gas Processors Association (GPA), the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA), and the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) -- asked PHMSA for a 60-day extension [Docket No. PHMSA-2011-0023].

A 60-day public comment period will begin for the proposed rule when it is published in the Federal Register. A spokesman for PHMSA told NGI on Monday that the rule was still going through the review process and an exact posting date has not yet been given. That means the original 60-day period for public comments could possibly end around late May, but with an approved extension it could go on until late July.

"We appreciate the agency releasing the pre-publication version of the notice of proposed rulemaking," the organizations wrote. "However, on account of the length and complexity of the proposed revisions to the existing regulations, we will need additional time to review and provide responsive comments

"The agency is proposing to modify approximately 47 sections of the regulations which will impact the design, construction, maintenance, operations and integrity management programs for gas transmission and gathering pipelines. In addition, we will need time to review and analyze the regulatory support documents which the agency has yet to release."

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