From smart phones to Facebook, instant connectivity has become a way of life. But for organizations charged with pipeline permitting and compliance—highly complex processes with multiple, sometimes conflicting rules and regulations—instant connectivity is not yet the norm. In many ways, companies dealing with these issues are still living in the age of acetate and plat books. And regulatory compliance is not likely to get easier anytime soon. In the wake of high-profile leaks and explosions, Congress recently signed into law tougher requirements for pipeline safety, Public Law 112-90. Fortunately, the technology now exists to electronically monitor and track nearly every aspect of regulatory compliance—from pre-construction to post-construction—in a way that allows for instant access and rapid analysis of natural resources, cultural resources, constructability constraints, and compliance risks. This paper discusses challenges pipeline companies face in complying with new and existing legislation and outlines innovative approaches for meeting regulatory requirements. It offers examples of web-server-based tools for data management that determine regulatory needs, actions, and post-maintenance follow-up. It also provides examples of how these tools and effective communication with regulators can streamline the regulatory process to save time and money.

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