Pipelines and Informed Planning Alliance

To better understand issues related to land use planning, PHMSA, in conjunction with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), sponsored a comprehensive study of land use practices, zoning ordinances, and preservation of environmental resources on transmission pipeline rights-of-way (ROW). In an October 2004 report, the Transportation Research Board (TRB) recommended that PHMSA “develop risk-informed land use guidance for application by stakeholders.”

In response, PHMSA initiated and supported a collaborative effort – The Pipelines and Informed Planning Alliance – made up of land use planning and pipeline safety stakeholders to implement the recommendations from the TRB study.

The Pipelines and Informed Planning Alliance (PIPA) participants represent a wide spectrum of stakeholders, including: property developers; the real estate industry; local, state, and federal government; fire marshals; the public; and the transmission pipeline industry. Over 150 PIPA participants worked in three separate Task Teams to consider and develop recommended practices related to protecting communities, protecting transmission pipelines, and ensuring better communication among stakeholders. The PIPA initiative began in January 2008 and has resulted in several recommended practices related to risk-informed land use planning and development adjacent to transmission pipelines.

The final PIPA report including the recommended practices can be downloaded by clicking here. Here is the associated report from PHMSA that helps communities understand risk – Building Safe Communities: Pipeline Risk and its Application to Local Development Decisions.

This initial report from PIPA is just the beginning and there is still much more to do to make this an effort that can continue to provide local governments the tools they need to address pipelines safety within their jurisdictional limits. The two main things that need to happen next are:

1. The PIPA team needs to formulate and fund a plan to get this information into the hands of local governments, and provide the technical assistance needed to help them implement the recommendations that make sense in their areas. Just drafting and posting the report on a website is not enough!

2. This first effort from PIPA focused on new development near existing pipelines. We now need to turn this equation around and help provide recommendations for new pipelines near existing deveolopment. While this was discussed during the first round of PIPA, the development of such ideas was put off because of concerns raised by FERC and the pipeline industry.

The Pipeline Safety Trust received a PHMSA grant award to pilot communication and outreach strategies for disseminating this information. The results of that project can be found here.

The Pipeline Safety Trust is a member of