St. Mary's Law Journal


Clear, consistent, and concise jurisdictional boundaries will aid pipeline operators to determine which regulations apply to their operations and associated facilities. This will help alleviate legal and financial risk to pipeline operators, who may be liable for noncompliance regardless of whether the pipeline operator or the associated refinery commits the violation. Overlapping state and federal regulations of pipelines and refineries has created confusion amongst operators regarding what regulations apply to their facilities. Three federal agencies—the Pipeline and Hazardous Safety Administration (PHMSA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) respectively—and a myriad of state agencies simultaneously regulate the transportation and storage of petroleum products in the United States. Furthermore, the PHMSA has controversially expanded their jurisdiction over above-ground storage tanks located inside refineries that are predominately used for purposes other than continued transportation of petroleum products by pipeline. Part 195 regulations apply only to above-ground storage tanks that meet the definition of a “breakout tank.” Accordingly, determining in advance whether an above-ground storage tank will be considered a breakout tank subject to Part 195 regulations carries important implications for a pipeline operator’s compliance with PHMSA regulations. This Comment addresses PHMSA’s current approach in determining regulatory authority over assets traditionally regulated by OSHA and the EPA and proposes a three-step analysis. The analysis is based on the function of the above-ground storage tank to determine whether PHMSA will consider the tank a breakout tank subject to the requirements of Part 195.

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St. Mary's University School of Law


Katherine Spiser Rios