PHMSA Announces New Policies Relating to Civil Penalty Calculations

PHMSA released on Tuesday a new policy stating it will now publish on its website the framework it uses to calculate pipeline civil penalties. Along with the published calculation, PHMSA also announced updates relating to the release of their civil penalty framework and stated that it will begin enforcing higher civil penalty amounts to serve as a deterrence in order to decrease risk.

PHMSA is making its civil penalty framework public in order to make transparent its process for calculating civil penalties, a process that PHMSA previously only provided to operators upon request.

In the past, PHMSA denied operators’ request for civil penalty calculations that were used in enforcement cases; however, PHMSA announced in its policy that the framework used for enforcement cases will now be available to operators upon request. Operators will also be able to request the Violation Report and case file.

In its announcement, PHMSA also stated that it will begin enforcing the authority it received in the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation of 2011 to impose higher civil penalties for pipeline violations. The administration will use this authority as a way to lower incident risk.

PHMSA has not yet stated how these changes affect operators who have pending enforcement cases.

The National Law Review