On Friday, May 23, 2014, leading into the Memorial Holiday weekend, the White House published its semiannual regulatory agenda (Unified Agenda) describing its plans for approximately 60 departments, agencies, and commissions across the federal government. Marking the fourth consecutive time the Obama administration has decided to slide its regulatory agenda under the door on the eve of a major federal holiday, the approach is becoming predictable, but no less suspect.

According to the published agenda the following items impacting natural gas and oil transportation by pipelines and oil by rail are slated for this summer:

  • A proposed rule by PHMSA to require excess flow valves on natural gas pipelines running through buildings beside single-family homes is slated for August 2014. The excess flow valve issue has been a focus of NTSB and Congress since the 2010 San Bruno explosion.
  • PHMSA is scheduled to release a broad reassessment of hazardous liquid pipeline safety regulation, including rules regarding leak detection in July 2014. This was called for in the Pipeline Safety Actreauthorization in 2011.
  • PHMSA plans to formally propose new crude-by-rail safety standards in July 2014. It is no surprise that new rules for tank cars are coming; how strict the standards advanced by the administration is yet to be revealed. Look for more information here when the rulemaking process begins.

A complete list from the Unified Agenda for the Department of Transportation can be found here: