PublicationsInsights on Current Policy Issues

  • July 11, 2016
    On July 11, 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) released a guidance document whose purpose it is to help Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) covered entities combat ransomware and meet their compliance obligations under HIPAA regulations. Late last month, the HHS also issued a guidance of a much more general nature to help health care providers avoid, prevent, and mitigate ransomware attacks. A few days after HHS issued the June guidance, two Congressmen sent a letter to OCR asking for guidance on ransomware to be issued and posing questions to the agency regarding whether all ransomware attacks should be considered HIPAA breaches.

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  • June 21, 2016
    By Tracy Taylor

    On June 21, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finalized its long-awaited Small Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) rule for routine commercial use of UAS (Part 107) and integration of UAS into the national airspace. The FAA expects the rule to be published in the Federal Register in five to seven days. The rule will be effective 60 days from the date of publication which will be the end of August.

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  • June 20, 2016

    By Frank Vlossak

    The House and Senate have completed action on the “Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of 2016” (S. 2276), with the House approving it by voice vote on June 8, and the Senate passing it by unanimous consent on June 13. The White House received the legislation on Thursday, June 16, and it is awaiting the President’s signature. S. 2276 reauthorizes the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) pipeline safety functions through September 30, 2019.

    Among the more significant provisions in the legislation are: a requirement for PHMSA to promulgate regulations governing the safety of underground natural gas storage facilities (Section 12); and a grant of new pipeline safety emergency order authority to PHMSA (Section 16). PHMSA is already working on underground natural gas storage regulations. As described in the most recent “Unified Agenda for Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions”, “PHMSA is planning to issue an interim final rule to require operators of underground storage facilities for natural gas to comply with minimum safety standards, including compliance with” existing American Petroleum Institute recommended practices.

    In addition to the underground natural gas storage provision, new regulatory mandates directed by the legislation include:
    • Requirements for hazardous liquid pipeline operators to provide safety data sheets (SDS) within six hours of an incident (Section 14);
    • Requirements for operators, in developing response plans, to “consider the impact of a discharge into or on navigable waters or adjoining shorelines, including those that may be covered in whole or in part by ice, and include procedures and resources for responding to such discharges in” their plans (Section 18);
    • Clarification of the requirements for abandoned pipelines (Section 23);
    • An annual inline inspection requirement for inland pipelines located below 150 feet of water (Section 25); and
    • A requirement for PHMSA to update the regulations governing “permanent, small scale liquefied natural gas pipeline facilities” (Section 27).


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PublicationsInsights on Current Policy Issues

  • July 11, 2016
    On July 11, 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) released a guidance document whose purpose it is to help Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) covered entities combat ransomware and meet their compliance obligations under HIPAA regulations. Late last month, the HHS also issued a guidance of a much more general nature to help health care providers avoid, prevent, and mitigate ransomware attacks. A few days after HHS issued the June guidance, two Congressmen sent a letter to OCR asking for guidance on ransomware to be issued and posing questions to the agency regarding whether all ransomware attacks should be considered HIPAA breaches.

    Read...

    Read More
  • June 21, 2016
    By Tracy Taylor

    On June 21, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finalized its long-awaited Small Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) rule for routine commercial use of UAS (Part 107) and integration of UAS into the national airspace. The FAA expects the rule to be published in the Federal Register in five to seven days. The rule will be effective 60 days from the date of publication which will be the end of August.

    Read...

    Read More
  • June 20, 2016

    By Frank Vlossak

    The House and Senate have completed action on the “Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of 2016” (S. 2276), with the House approving it by voice vote on June 8, and the Senate passing it by unanimous consent on June 13. The White House received the legislation on Thursday, June 16, and it is awaiting the President’s signature. S. 2276 reauthorizes the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) pipeline safety functions through September 30, 2019.

    Among the more significant provisions in the legislation are: a requirement for PHMSA to promulgate regulations governing the safety of underground natural gas storage facilities (Section 12); and a grant of new pipeline safety emergency order authority to PHMSA (Section 16). PHMSA is already working on underground natural gas storage regulations. As described in the most recent “Unified Agenda for Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions”, “PHMSA is planning to issue an interim final rule to require operators of underground storage facilities for natural gas to comply with minimum safety standards, including compliance with” existing American Petroleum Institute recommended practices.

    In addition to the underground natural gas storage provision, new regulatory mandates directed by the legislation include:
    • Requirements for hazardous liquid pipeline operators to provide safety data sheets (SDS) within six hours of an incident (Section 14);
    • Requirements for operators, in developing response plans, to “consider the impact of a discharge into or on navigable waters or adjoining shorelines, including those that may be covered in whole or in part by ice, and include procedures and resources for responding to such discharges in” their plans (Section 18);
    • Clarification of the requirements for abandoned pipelines (Section 23);
    • An annual inline inspection requirement for inland pipelines located below 150 feet of water (Section 25); and
    • A requirement for PHMSA to update the regulations governing “permanent, small scale liquefied natural gas pipeline facilities” (Section 27).


    Read...

    Read More

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