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Government Proposes Adopting Voluntary Consensus Standards to Save Taxpayers Money and Enhance Efficiency

Two ANSI SDOs Cited in Proposed Rulemaking

New York, Feb 04, 2002

Proposed rulemaking emanating from the U.S. Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS) recommends the adoption of voluntary consensus standards developed by two ANSI members and ANSI-accredited standards developers, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American Welding Society (AWS).

Published in the Federal Register on December 27, 2001, the proposed rulemaking reflects MMS' intention to incorporate eight API standards and one AWS standard pertaining to floating production systems (FPS) used in oil and gas and sulpher operations in the Outer Continental Shelf. According to MMS, the proposed incorporation "of a body of industry standards pertaining to FPSs will save the public the costs of developing government standards…and will also enhance the efficient exploration and development of the most promising new sources of U.S. oil and gas supplies in the deepwater areas of the Gulf of Mexico."

MMS indicates that they have participated in the development of several of these standards and believe that they "could not have written duplicative government regulations that would be either as technically detailed or as broad in their scope as these standards. Moreover, the writing of such duplicative government regulations could neither be done in a timely nor economically efficient way, nor with the same level of expertise that was involved in the industry effort".

The eight API standards cited in the document include Recommended Practices for a variety of planning, design and construction elements for FPSs. David Miller, director of API's Standards Program, indicated that these standards were developed under a joint industry/government effort known as the Accelerated Standards and Operating Practices Initiative. In fact, last year, API was elected to the 2001 Associations Advance America Honor Roll, a national award competition sponsored by the American Society of Association Executives, for its collaborative work with the government.

"The development of effective, workable standards through this collaborative effort between government and the private sector will save the nation both time and money in the efficient and environmentally sound development of our nation's most promising oil and gas natural resources," explained Miller. "This is a particularly timely contribution to a comprehensive national energy strategy that must include the development of our nation's resources. Developing these consensus standards also follows the direction of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act."

A representative from AWS indicated that their Specification for Underwater Welding (AWS D3.6M:1999) is the first one ever written for underwater welding. "We are pleased that MMS is considering adopting the entire standard as opposed to incorporating bits and pieces of it into their own government requirements as this ensures the integrity of the document," the representative said.

The proposed rulemaking is currently in the public review and comment stage of the adoption process. The MMS is extending the comment period to March 27, 2002. All comments should be written and submitted in triplicate to: Department of the Interior, Minerals Management Service, 381 Elden Street, Mail Stop 4024, Herndon, VA 20170-4817, Attention: Rule Processing Team. [Editor's Note: For a copy of the proposed rulemaking, please download the .pdf file in the sidebar at left.]

"The collaboration of MMS with members of the voluntary standards community provides another example of the beneficial results for U.S. consumers, industry and government that can be reaped from a close private/public sector partnership," explained David Karmol, ANSI's director of public policy and government affairs. "The National Standards Strategy calls for just these kinds of partnerships to develop coherent standards for government use in regulations that harmonize with industry standards."

An agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior, MMS manages the nation's natural gas, oil and other mineral resources on the Outer Continental Shelf. The agency also collects, account for and distributes over $65 billion per year in revenues from federal offshore leases and from onshore leases on federal and Native American lands.

API is the primary trade association representing the oil and natural gas industry in the United States. Its membership includes more than 400 corporations involved in all aspects of the oil and gas industry including exploration and production, marine transportation, pipeline transportation, refining and marketing, and service and supply companies of the oil and gas industry.

AWS was founded in 1919 as a multifaceted, nonprofit organization with a goal to advance the science, technology and application of welding and related joining disciplines. From factory floor to high-rise construction, from military weaponry to home products, AWS continues to lead the way in supporting welding education and technology development to ensure a strong, competitive and exciting way of life for all Americans.

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