Interstate Pipeline Inspections: Additional Planning Could Help DOT Determine Appropriate Level of State Participation

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) oversees the safety of interstate and intrastate natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines. PHMSA certifies states to oversee intrastate pipelines, and some states also act as PHMSA’s “agents” to supplement the federal inspection workforce for interstate pipelines. In recent years PHMSA has signaled a move away from using interstate agent agreements. Recent funding increases have enabled PHMSA to hire additional federal inspectors. States may receive annual grants to reimburse up to 80 percent of the cost of their pipeline safety activities. Congress included a provision in statute for the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the federal and state responsibilities and resources used to inspect interstate pipelines. This report addresses (1) how state participation has affected interstate pipeline oversight and (2) PHMSA’s assessment of the resources needed to conduct interstate pipeline inspections. GAO reviewed relevant laws and PHMSA guidance on state participation in these inspections; analyzed the most recent 6 years of PHMSA funding and inspector staffing data; and interviewed pipeline safety officials from PHMSA and 22 states selected based on level of participation in interstate inspections. PHMSA should develop a workforce plan for interstate pipeline inspections, considering, among other things, the additional resources and safety oversight that state pipeline officials can provide. The Department of Transportation (DOT) concurred with the recommendation and provided technical comments, which GAO incorporated as appropriate.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 25p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01671848
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: GAO-18-461
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 29 2018 1:40PM