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Basic Information about Pipelines and Pipeline Construction

Basic Information about the Regulation of Pipelines

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
According to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, FERC is responsible for:

  • the regulation of the transmission and sale of natural gas and oil for resale in interstate commerce;
  • the regulation of the transportation of oil by pipeline in interstate commerce;
  • Approving the siting and abandonment of interstate natural gas pipelines and storage facilities;
  • Approves the siting of liquefied natural gas terminals;
  • Ensuring the safe operation and reliability of proposed and operating LNG terminals;
  • Monitoring and investigation of energy markets;
  • Enforcing FERC regulatory requirements through imposition of civil penalties and other means; and
  • overseeing environmental matters related to natural gas and hydroelectricity projects and other matters.

The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)
PHMSA is the agency that:

  • Develops and enforces regulations for the "safe, reliable, and environmentally sound operation of the nation's pipeline transportation system."
  • Houses the Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS), which is the Federal safety authority for the nation. They provide information regarding pipeline regulation, proposed and final rulemaking, and pipeline statistics.
  • PHMSA provides technical resources as well as information relating to their Transmission Integrity Management Program.
  • Provides information on the Common Ground Alliance, One Call programs, the National Pipeline Mapping System, and report on accidents/incidents/corrective action orders for major pipelines.
  • Provides information on individual state pipeline profiles. Visit the website and select your state from the "State Pipeline Profiles" on the left banner

State Public Utilities Commission (PUC)

PUCs are agents for PHMSA and:

  • The PUC enforces the federal pipeline safety regulations in each state
  • Each PUC has developed a registry of pipeline operators and is charged with conducting safety inspections of the lines for all pipeline operators in the state
  • Each PUC monitors compliance with federal and state regulations by conducting frequent inspections of pipeline facilities and records of regulated gas utilities.

State Agencies

State permitting differs markedly between states. In most cases, state environmental or conservation agencies will be responsible for issuing permits when a pipeline runs through a wetland or crosses a waterway. More than one state agency may be involved in permit review, issuing and decisions. All states conduct some form of 401 certification for individual pipeline permits. In some states, in addition to §401 certification, the state has its own wetland/waterbody regulatory dredge and fill program. In this case, not only does the state review and potentially condition the federal permit, but also may require a separate state permit. While this information resource focuses on wetland regulation (§401 certification of §404 permits and state dredge and fill program permits), applicants need to be aware that other environmental review and permitting also needs to take place. States may have requirements for a set of standardized best practices that will be either required or encouraged.

Local Government

In some states, wetland impacts are regulated at the local level. Check with your state agencies to understand the specific requirements for compliance.

FERC Regulation of Natural Gas Pipelines

Opportunities for Regulatory Training

Pipeline Glossaries and Acronym Lists

Government Links

Gas Industry Links

Nonprofit Links

Additional Links:

Regulation History

Planning Resources:

Stormwater Management/Erosion and Sediment Control

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 Improving State and Tribal Permitting of Pipeline Projects in the United States

Resources for States and Tribes 

Resources for Oil and Gas Companies and Consultants