Washington Watch

Stephen Barlas, Washington Editor

Sewer and drinking water funding has been a back burner issue in Washington for the past decade, as local infrastructure needs have come to a boil. But the economic stimulus package Congress will pass will include substantial funds for water infrastructure.

Stephen Barlas, Washington Editor

FERC walked a fine line with its final rule on natural gas flow posting, reducing the number of intrastate pipelines – called major non interstates for the purpose of this rulemaking – who will have to comply while at the same time ditching a former proposal which interstates had opposed. FERC threw a bone to interstates, too.

Stephen Barlas, Washington Editor

The gas infrastructure conference on Nov. 21 touched on LNG pricing and terminal construction, but never got into the political issues which are likely to bear on FERC’s approval of new LNG terminals.

Stephen Barlas, Washington Editor

Worries about potential escalating demand for natural gas from electric utilities and industrials forced to switch fuels because of climate change legislation from Congress was the major factor behind the FERC natural gas infrastructure workshop on Nov. 21.

Stephen Barlas, Washington Editor

You know a federal rulemaking was complicated when the chairman of the agency in charge admits: “It has been difficult to get this rule right.” That may be an understatement with regard to the final rules on standard of conduct for pipelines which FERC announced on Oct. 16.

Stephen Barlas, Washington Editor

The U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) finalized new rules allowing transmission companies to operate pipeline segments in Class 1 locations at 80 percent of specified minimum yield strength (SMYS) of the steel.

Stephen Barlas, Washington Editor

The federal pipeline regulatory agency proposed a broad new rule which would force hazardous liquid, transmission and distribution pipelines plus LNG terminals to train and test large numbers of employees in control room operations, and implement new safety measures for SCADA systems.

Stephen Barlas, Washington Editor

FERC officials say they aren’t pressuring the competing Denali and TransCanada Alaskan pipeline projects to merge. But the two projects – one already in the pre filing process – are heading toward submitting construction applications to FERC at roughly the same time in 2011 or 2012, depending on who one talks to, in what would be a regulatory clash and crash that the agency hopes to avoid. Congress is also pressuring the two Alaskan gas transportation contestants, though very subtly.

Stephen Barlas, Washington Editor

A Senate committee’s passage of an important water infrastructure bill at the end of September was encouraging, but unfortunately not decisive.

Stephen Barlas, Washington Editor

With Congress almost certain to pass a bill revising or eliminating its longstanding ban on offshore oil and gas drilling, interstate natural gas pipelines are trying to insure that any bill does not include an amendment setting up a national commission which would examine the adequacy of current federal policies governing the siting of natural gas infrastructure.

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