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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

U.S. Reps. DeFazio, Malinowski slam PHMSA for granting LNG-by-rail permit


U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) offered sharp criticism of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's (PHMSA) decision to grant a special permit to a company that wants to transport liquefied natural gas (LNG) by rail from Pennsylvania to New Jersey for export.

On Dec. 5, PHMSA granted a special permit to Energy Transport Solutions LLC to authorize transportation of LNG in DOT-113C120 tank cars between Wyalusing, Pennsylvania, and Gibbstown, New Jersey, with no intermediate stops, subject to certain operational controls.

In doing so, the agency jumped ahead of its notice of proposed rulemaking on moving LNG by rail, DeFazio and Malinowski said in a press release.

The decision to grant the permit came despite repeated objections from members of Congress, and safety and environmental groups, they said.

"For months I have been sounding the alarm on this dangerous plan. Not only has PHMSA failed to take the proper steps of testing, analyzing or reviewing this unprecedented plan, it failed to provide Congress and the public the opportunity to consider whether the permit’s operating conditions sufficiently address the potential safety implications — an opportunity that’s required by law," said DeFazio.

"This decision by the Department of Transportation to allow LNG to move in large volumes without adequate safeguards is irresponsible, and yet another example of the [Trump] administration putting corporate interests over the safety of the American public,” Malinowski added.

In June, the U.S. House passed a DeFazio amendment to H.R. 3055, which would prohibit the U.S. transportation secretary from finalizing a rulemaking on issuing a special permit to allow LNG transport by rail.