49 CFR Appendix A to Part 195 - Delineation Between Federal and State Jurisdiction - Statement of Agency Policy and Interpretation
In 1979, Congress enacted comprehensive safety legislation governing the transportation of hazardous liquids by pipeline, the Hazardous Liquids Pipeline Safety Act of 1979, 49 U.S.C. 2001 et seq. (HLPSA). The HLPSA expanded the existing statutory authority for safety regulation, which was limited to transportation by common carriers in interstate and foreign commerce, to transportation through facilities used in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce. It also added civil penalty, compliance order, and injunctive enforcement authorities to the existing criminal sanctions. Modeled largely on the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968, 49 U.S.C. 1671 et seq. (NGPSA), the HLPSA provides for a national hazardous liquid pipeline safety program with nationally uniform minimal standards and with enforcement administered through a Federal-State partnership. The HLPSA leaves to exclusive Federal regulation and enforcement the “interstate pipeline facilities,” those used for the pipeline transportation of hazardous liquids in interstate or foreign commerce. For the remainder of the pipeline facilities, denominated “intrastate pipeline facilities,” the HLPSA provides that the same Federal regulation and enforcement will apply unless a State certifies that it will assume those responsibilities. A certified State must adopt the same minimal standards but may adopt additional more stringent standards so long as they are compatible. Therefore, in States which participate in the hazardous liquid pipeline safety program through certification, it is necessary to distinguish the interstate from the intrastate pipeline facilities.
In deciding that an administratively practical approach was necessary in distinguishing between interstate and intrastate liquid pipeline facilities and in determining how best to accomplish this, DOT has logically examined the approach used in the NGPSA. The NGPSA defines the interstate gas pipeline facilities subject to exclusive Federal jurisdiction as those subject to the economic regulatory jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Experience has proven this approach practical. Unlike the NGPSA however, the HLPSA has no specific reference to FERC jurisdiction, but instead defines interstate liquid pipeline facilities by the more commonly used means of specifying the end points of the transportation involved. For example, the economic regulatory jurisdiction of FERC over the transportation of both gas and liquids by pipeline is defined in much the same way. In implementing the HLPSA DOT has sought a practicable means of distinguishing between interstate and intrastate pipeline facilities that provide the requisite degree of certainty to Federal and State enforcement personnel and to the regulated entities. DOT intends that this statement of agency policy and interpretation provide that certainty.
In 1981, DOT decided that the inventory of liquid pipeline facilities identified as subject to the jurisdiction of FERC approximates the HLPSA category of “interstate pipeline facilities.” Administrative use of the FERC inventory has the added benefit of avoiding the creation of a separate Federal scheme for determination of jurisdiction over the same regulated entities. DOT recognizes that the FERC inventory is only an approximation and may not be totally satisfactory without some modification. The difficulties stem from some significant differences in the economic regulation of liquid and of natural gas pipelines. There is an affirmative assertion of jurisdiction by FERC over natural gas pipelines through the issuance of certificates of public convenience and necessity prior to commencing operations. With liquid pipelines, there is only a rebuttable presumption of jurisdiction created by the filing by pipeline operators of tariffs (or concurrences) for movement of liquids through existing facilities. Although FERC does police the filings for such matters as compliance with the general duties of common carriers, the question of jurisdiction is normally only aired upon complaint. While any person, including State or Federal agencies, can avail themselves of the FERC forum by use of the complaint process, that process has only been rarely used to review jurisdictional matters (probably because of the infrequency of real disputes on the issue). Where the issue has arisen, the reviewing body has noted the need to examine various criteria primarily of an economic nature. DOT believes that, in most cases, the formal FERC forum can better receive and evaluate the type of information that is needed to make decisions of this nature than can DOT.
In delineating which liquid pipeline facilities are interstate pipeline facilities within the meaning of the HLPSA, DOT will generally rely on the FERC filings; that is, if there is a tariff or concurrence filed with FERC governing the transportation of hazardous liquids over a pipeline facility or if there has been an exemption from the obligation to file tariffs obtained from FERC, then DOT will, as a general rule, consider the facility to be an interstate pipeline facility within the meaning of the HLPSA. The types of situations in which DOT will ignore the existence or non-existence of a filing with FERC will be limited to those cases in which it appears obvious that a complaint filed with FERC would be successful or in which blind reliance on a FERC filing would result in a situation clearly not intended by the HLPSA such as a pipeline facility not being subject to either State or Federal safety regulation. DOT anticipates that the situations in which there is any question about the validity of the FERC filings as a ready reference will be few and that the actual variations from reliance on those filings will be rare. The following examples indicate the types of facilities which DOT believes are interstate pipeline facilities subject to the HLPSA despite the lack of a filing with FERC and the types of facilities over which DOT will generally defer to the jurisdiction of a certifying state despite the existence of a filing with FERC.
As seen from the examples, the types of situations in which DOT will not defer to the FERC regulatory scheme are generally clear-cut cases. For the remainder of the situations where variation from the FERC scheme would require DOT to replicate the forum already provided by FERC and to consider economic factors better left to that agency, DOT will decline to vary its reliance on the FERC filings unless, of course, not doing so would result in situations clearly not intended by the HLPSA.