PHMSA finalizes pipeline rulemaking that addresses ethanol

By Erin Voegele | March 18, 2015

The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has published a final rule in the Federal Register that amends pipeline safety regulations to make miscellaneous changes that update and clarify certain regulatory requirements. Adding ethanol to the definition of hazardous materials is among the matters addressed by the rule.

The PHMSA first issued the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in November 2011. The administration has now finalized that rulemaking.

According to the Federal Register notice, in the NPRM, PHMSA proposed to modify its definition of “hazardous liquid” to include ethanol. In the final rule, the PHMSA confirms it has added ethanol to the definition of hazardous liquids. While at least one commenter suggested that biodiesel petroleum also be added to the definition, the PHMSA said it would not adopt that suggestion because the request is outside the scope of this rulemaking. The issue, however, may be addressed in future rulemaking.

According to the PHMSA, the action to add ethanol to the definition was based, in part, on a policy statement published in the Federal Register in August 2007 on the transportation of ethanol, ethanol blends, and other biofuels by pipeline. “PHMSA noted in the policy statement that the demand for biofuels was projected to increase as a result of several federal energy policy initiatives, which would result in greater use of pipelines for transporting biofuels,” said the administration in the final rule. “PHMSA also stated that ethanol and other biofuels are substances that ‘may pose an unreasonable risk to life or property’ within the meaning of 49 U.S.C. 60101(a)(4)(B), and accordingly, these materials constitute ‘hazardous liquids for purposes of the pipeline safety laws and regulations.’ PHMSA went on to say that the agency was considering a possible modification to § 195.2 to include ethanol and biofuels in the definition of hazardous liquid. PHMSA invited comments on that proposal and on other issues related to the transportation of biofuels by pipeline.”

A full copy of the final rule is available on the Federal Register website.