[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 65 (Wednesday, April 7, 2021)]
[Pages 18117-18118]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-07152]



Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

[Docket No. PHMSA-2021-0039]
RIN 2137-AF51

Pipeline Safety: Pipeline Leak Detection, Leak Repair, and 
Methane Emission Reductions Public Meeting

AGENCY: Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), 

ACTION: Notice of public meeting.


SUMMARY: This notice announces a public meeting during which 
stakeholder groups and members of the public will have the opportunity 
to share and discuss perspectives on improving gas pipeline leak 
detection and repair. PHMSA expects to cover subjects that include 
examining the sources of methane emissions from natural gas pipeline 
systems, current regulatory requirements for managing fugitive and 
vented emissions, industry leak detection and repair practices, and the 
use of advanced technologies and practices to reduce methane emissions 
from gas pipeline systems. The meeting will occur virtually on May 5-6, 
2021. This discussion is intended to inform a rulemaking and report to 
Congress on natural gas pipeline leak detection and repair mandated by 
Sections 113 and 114 of the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines 
and Enhancing Safety Act of 2020.

DATES: The leak detection and repair public meeting will occur on May 
5-6, 2021. Members of the public who want to participate in the virtual 
meeting must register no later than April 30, 2021. Individuals 
requiring accommodations, such as sign language interpretation or other 
aids, are asked to notify PHMSA no later than April 26, 2021. For 
additional information, please see the ADDRESSES section of this 
    Individuals who are interested in submitting comments on the 
subject of the public meeting must do so by May 24, 2021.

ADDRESSES: This meeting will be held virtually. The meeting agenda and 
instructions on how to attend virtually will be published once they are 
finalized on the following public meeting registration page at: https://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/meetings/MtgHome.mtg?mtg=152. Presentations will 
be available on the meeting website and on the E-gov website, https://regulations.gov, under docket number PHMSA-2021-0039, no later than 30 
days following the meeting. You may submit comments, identified by 
Docket No. PHMSA-2021-0039, by any of the following methods:
     E-Gov Web: http://www.regulations.gov. This site allows 
the public to enter comments on any Federal Register notice issued by 
any agency. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail: Docket Management System: U.S. Department of 
Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building Ground Floor, 
Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
     Hand Delivery: DOT Docket Management System: West Building 
Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, between 9:00 
a.m. and 5:00 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
     Fax: 202-493-2251.
     Instructions: Identify the Docket No. PHMSA-2021-0039, at 
the beginning of your comments. If you submit your comments by mail, 
please submit two copies. If you wish to receive confirmation that 
PHMSA received your comments, you must include a self-addressed stamped 
postcard. Internet users may submit comments at: http://www.regulations.gov.
     Note: All comments received are posted without edits to 
http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information 
provided. Please see the Privacy Act heading below.
     Privacy Act: In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT 
solicits comments from the public to better inform its rulemaking 
process. DOT posts these comments, without edit, including any personal 
information the commenter provides, to www.regulations.gov, as 
described in the system of records notice (DOT/ALL-14 FDMS), which can 
be reviewed at www.dot.gov/privacy.
     Confidential Business Information: Confidential Business 
Information (CBI) is commercial or financial information that is both 
customarily and actually treated as private by its owner. Under the 
Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552), CBI is exempt from public 
disclosure. If your comments in response to this notice contain 
commercial or financial information that is customarily treated as 
private, that you actually treat as private, and that is relevant or 
responsive to this notice, it is important that you clearly designate 
the submitted comments as CBI. Pursuant to 49 Code of Federal 
Regulations (CFR) Sec.  190.343, you may ask PHMSA to provide 
confidential treatment to information you give to the agency by taking 
the following steps: (1) Mark each page of the original document 
submission containing CBI as ``Confidential;'' (2) send PHMSA a copy of 
the original document with the CBI deleted along with the original, 
unaltered document; and (3) explain why the information you are 
submitting is CBI. Unless you are notified otherwise, PHMSA will treat 
such marked submissions as confidential under the Freedom of 
Information Act and only the redacted version will be placed in the 
public docket of this notice. Submissions containing CBI should be sent 
to Sayler Palabrica, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, DOT: PHMSA--PHP-30, 
Washington, DC 20590-0001. Any commentary PHMSA receives that is not 
specifically designated as CBI will be placed in the public docket.
     Docket: For access to the docket to read background 
documents or comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the online instructions for accessing the dockets. 
Alternatively, you may review the documents in person at the street 
address listed above.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sayler Palabrica by phone at 202-744-
0825 or via email at [email protected].
    Sam Hall by phone at 804-551-3876 or via email at [email protected].


I. Background

    Natural gas is composed primarily of methane, a greenhouse gas 
several times more potent than carbon dioxide. Prompt detection and 
repair of methane leaks from gas pipelines can result in safety, 
environmental and economic benefits. Section 113 of the Protecting our 
Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2020 (PIPES Act 
of 2020; Division R of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021; 
Pub. L. 116-260) mandates that the Secretary of Transportation 
promulgate a final rule concerning gas pipeline leak detection and 
repair programs no later than one year after the enactment of the law 
(i.e., by December 27, 2021).
    Additionally, Section 114(a) and (b) of the PIPES Act of 2020 
requires that each pipeline operator update their inspection and 
maintenance plans to

[[Page 18118]]

contribute to eliminating hazardous leaks and minimizing releases of 
natural gas from pipeline facilities and for PHMSA and its state 
partners to inspect these plans. Section 114(c) mandates that the 
Comptroller General of the United States conduct a study and provide a 
report evaluating the procedures used by the Secretary of 
Transportation and the states in reviewing the plans prepared by 
pipeline operators and provide recommendations for how to further 
minimize natural gas releases. Finally, Section 114(d) directs PHMSA to 
submit a report to Congress discussing the best available technologies 
or practices to prevent or minimize the need to intentionally vent 
natural gas, without compromising pipeline safety, during pipeline 
repairs, replacements, maintenance, and operations. Section 114(d)(2) 
further directs PHMSA to issue rulemaking based on the results of that 
    The proceedings from this meeting, including public discussion and 
comments, are intended to inform PHMSA's approach to issuing a 
rulemaking related to the Section 113 leak detection and repair mandate 
and the inspection, reporting, and rulemaking requirements in Section 

II. Meeting Details and Agenda

    The gas pipeline leak detection and repair public meeting will 
include discussions between government, public interest groups 
(environmental advocacy and public safety stakeholders), industry, and 
the general public on leaks and emissions from pipeline systems and how 
best to detect and repair them. On May 5, 2021, the agenda will include 
an introduction from PHMSA on the mandates from the PIPES Act of 2020 
and panel discussions on perspectives from Federal and state safety and 
environmental regulators, public interest groups, and the regulated 
industry. The agenda for May 6, 2021, is focused on research and 
development efforts on leak detection and repair technologies and best 
practices. Each segment will include a question-and-answer period, and 
there will be an additional opportunity for public comment at the end 
of each day. PHMSA will provide a meeting agenda on the meeting 
registration web page listed in the ADDRESS section of this notice.

III. Public Participation

    The meeting will be open to the public. Members of the public who 
wish to attend must register on the meeting website and include their 
names and organization affiliation. PHMSA will provide members of the 
public with opportunities to make statements during the course of this 
meeting. PHMSA is committed to providing all participants with equal 
access to this meeting. If you need disability accommodations, please 
contact Sam Hall by phone at 804-551-3876 or via email at 
[email protected].
    PHMSA is not always able to publish a notice in the Federal 
Register quickly enough to provide timely notice regarding last minute 
issues that may impact a previously announced meeting. Therefore, 
individuals should check the meeting website listed in the ADDRESSES 
section of this notice or contact Sam Hall by phone at 804-551-3876 or 
via email at [email protected] regarding any possible changes.
    PHMSA invites public participation and public comment on the topics 
of this meeting. Please review the ADDRESSES section of this notice for 
information on how to submit written comments.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on April 2, 2021, under authority 
delegated in 49 CFR 1.97.
Alan K. Mayberry,
Associate Administrator for Pipeline Safety.
[FR Doc. 2021-07152 Filed 4-6-21; 8:45 am]