The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has published a notice on whether to expand integrity management program (IMP) requirements for natural gas pipelines beyond high-consequence (HCA) or high-population areas.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American Gas Association (AGA) requested that PHMSA extend the notice comment period deadline from Sept. 30 to Nov. 1.

“PHMSA concurs with API and AGA’s request and is extending the comment period…to Nov. 1,” the agency said.

The notice of inquiry, which was published in the Federal Register, was in response to Section 5 of the Pipeline, Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011, which requires the secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT) to evaluate and issue a report on whether IMP requirements should be expanded beyond HCAs and whether such expansion would mitigate the need for class location requirements.

Among other things, the 2011 legislation increases the civil penalty to $200,000 per violation from $100,000, and raises the penalty for a series of related pipeline violations to $2 million from $1 million (see Daily GPI, Dec. 15, 2011). It also requires the DOT secretary to evaluate whether IMP requirements should be expanded beyond HCA and and requires the secretary to establish specific time limits for operators to notify the National Response Center of accidents or incidents involving their pipelines.