New Requirements for Nation's Gas Storage Facilities a First, But Not Final, Step Forward for Public Health and Safety

Statement from Adam Peltz, Attorney, Environmental Defense Fund

December 16, 2016
Kelsey Robinson, (512) 691-3404,

This week, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) released new safety policies for the nation’s natural gas storage facilities. This Interim Final Rule (IFR) – launched in response to the massive gas leak at the Aliso Canyon storage facility in Southern California last year – will inscribe into law the industry’s own recommended practices for operating and maintaining the 400+  storage facilities across the country.  


“The massive methane leak at the Aliso Canyon gas storage field in Los Angeles revealed widespread inadequacies in how we protect the public from the impacts of these industrial sites. Until now, there were no national safety standards for these operations, and the PHMSA rule could provide baseline protections to supplement state oversight.

“However, PHMSA standards must evolve beyond a restatement of industry recommended best practices. The new standards offer scant or no detail on many safety precautions, creating immediate challenges for the state and federal regulators enforcing these new policies. To bridge this gap, PHMSA will need to both beef up the rule and rely on state expertise to ensure all gas storage wells are held to uniformly high standards. 

“As noted by The Department of Energy, this IFR is only a starting point for regulating this critical industry, and EDF will continue to work with PHMSA to make improvements to the rule, and to the way PHMSA shares authority with the states, to fix these shortcomings.”

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