Congress established the need for guidelines for drones in Section 2209 of the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016. In it, the FAA was required to set up procedures for operators or owners of fixed-site facilities such as an oilfield, natural gas processing plant, transmission plant or refinery, to restrict the ability of drones to operate near their facilities.

The deadline for implementation was 240 days after the act took effect, or Jan. 15, 2017, but it was not ready to go. The regulators’ approach was to allow only “crown jewels” of the facilities to be protected by no-fly zones, leaving less-critical components of a plant vulnerable.

Akin Gump gathered members of Congress, the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) into a working group to develop and propose effective guidelines for Section 2209 when it is ultimately implemented.