A special permit (previously called a waiver) is an order that waives or modifies compliance with a regulatory requirement if the pipeline operator requesting it demonstrates the need and PHMSA determines that granting a special permit would be consistent with pipeline safety. Special permits are authorized by statute in 49 USC § 60118(c) and the application process is set forth in 49 CFR 190.341. PHMSA performs extensive technical analysis on special permit applications and typically conditions a grant of a special permit on the performance of alternative measures that will provide an equal or greater level of safety. PHMSA is committed to public involvement and transparency in special permit proceedings and publishes notice of every special permit application received in the Federal Register for comment.
A state waiver is similar to a special permit, except that it waives or modifies compliance with a regulation adopted by the state pursuant to its participation in the pipeline safety program under a certification authorized by 49 USC § 60105 or an agreement authorized by 49 USC § 60106. Prior to issuing a state waiver, the state is required to provide PHMSA with a 60 day review period.