Statement of Office of Pipeline Safety

Vanessa Allen Sutherland: [0:00] to share PHMSA's use of voluntary consensus standards. As Mary and Emily noted, we are one of many agencies that has been incorporating voluntary consensus standards consistently and very, I think, effectively for a long time. [0:17] I'll first introduce Linda Daugherty who is the Deputy Associate Administrator for the Pipeline Program at PHMSA, and then Ryan Posten, who is the Deputy Associate Administrator for the Hazmat Program at PHMSA to provide an overview of how PHMSA uses standards. Linda.
Linda Daugherty: [0:36] Thank you. Good morning everyone. Thank you to all of our viewers on the webcast. Hopefully you will participate as well as have a very interactive session this afternoon. [0:56] Obviously this is a very important issue for us. I serve as the Deputy Associate Administrator for Pipeline Safety on the Policy and Programs area. This is very important to us. We have a lot of issues, a lot of regulations that we need to get out safety standards, and this whole issue we need to resolve and come to good solutions. We're looking forward to discussing that this afternoon.

[1:12] As you heard from Emily and Mary, there are a lot of issues to think about. A lot of things that we have to consider, and we'll discuss those more.

[1:21] You also heard that there are some various directives on the use of SDO documents and whether we can incorporate them by reference, so we'll talk about those. But most of all we're looking for some very good solutions this afternoon.

[1:37] This is just a picture of the language that was used in the Act, in the Pipeline Safety Act of 2011. I won't read it to you, but very specifically I would point out the language that relates to -- made available to the public, free of charge, on an Internet website. As mentioned before, that is very specific.

[2:00] These are some of the SDOs that the Pipeline Safety Standards currently reference. These organizations, as you look at them you'll see a lot of those are fairly technical in nature. A lot of the SDOs we work with are about technical issues, engineering issues. Things that are brought together by, as you're well aware of, people that have expertise in certain areas.

[2:31] A few facts. The Office of Pipeline Safety, we've been using standards since we first issued our rules in 1970, so you're talking 30, 40 years of incorporation by reference. We have 20 people that participate in 25 different committees that look at those, so we want to be engaged in any consensus standard that is developed.

[2:54] We weigh in on those standards to make sure they meet our needs. Frankly, if they don't meet our needs, we don't incorporate them.

[3:04] It takes an average of about two years to promulgate a rule. That's just a fact. Some take less time, some take a lot longer. The incorporation by reference is part of that. Developing a standard internally would adjust that one way or the other.

[3:20] It doesn't comment on the quality of it. It just comments on the length of time it takes to develop a rule. We do have several rules under development right now which would look at adoption of consensus standards. Obviously the Act language may change some of that.

[3:37] Right now, we have 65 standards that we incorporate by reference. In some ways that sounds like a lot. In other ways it doesn't sound like a whole lot. I think you'll hear from Hazmat they have some different numbers than we do.

[3:48] We have currently found that 20 of those are available free on the Internet. Thank you to the SDOs that made those available. We would obviously like to see more. Most of these standards have secondary references. You get to one reference and they may have another reference, another standard that you need to find.

[4:09] If you look at the length of those standards, they vary significantly. A four page standard is not a whole lot, but if you're looking at 1,042 pages to define a single issue, that's a lot of material.

[4:29] The standards cost on average between 8,500 and 9,500 per set. When you look at the cost to individuals trying to access that information, if it is not available free and on the website, it can be quite expensive.

[4:49] I'll turn it over to my colleague in Hazardous Materials.

Unofficial Transcript Provided by Public.Resource.Org