PHMSA Proposes $3.7 million fine for Enbridge Spill in Michigan in 2010

August 2012, Vol. 67 No. 8

The NTSB preliminary report recommendations to PHMSA would seem to give Enbridge some leverage for arguing that some of its missteps, particularly related to addressing the crack which led to the leak, were understandable given the lack of clarity in federal law. The recommendations include urging the PHMSA to revise current law "to clearly state:" (1) when an engineering assessment of crack defects, including environmentally assisted cracks, must be performed; (2) the acceptable methods for performing these engineering assessments, including the assessment of cracks coinciding with corrosion with a safety factor that considers the uncertainties associated with sizing of crack defects; (3) criteria for determining when a probable crack defect in a pipeline segment must be excavated and time limits for completing those excavations; (4) pressure restriction limits for crack defects that are not excavated by the required date; and (5) acceptable methods for determining crack growth for any cracks allowed to remain in the pipe, including growth caused by fatigue, corrosion fatigue, or stress corrosion cracking as applicable.

Devon Condemns EPA Air Standards For Gas Industry

A Devon Energy executive lambasted the Environmental Protection Agency at Senate hearings in June for basing new gas industry air emissions rules related to fracking on faulty research. At the hearings before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Darren Smith, environmental manager, Devon Energy Corporation, argued the EPA had based the rules on "a drastic overestimate of methane emissions from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells."

The New Source Performance Standards would ostensibly reduce emissions of methane, among other volatile organic chemicals. When it issued the final rules, the EPA ditched the provisions in the proposed rules which would have applied them to natural gas transmission and storage sectors -- at least for the moment.