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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Lawmakers seek more information on proposed LNG-by-rail permit


House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) have asked federal officials for an update on a special permit request by Energy Transport Solutions LLC to transport liquified natural gas (LNG) by unit train.

The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced in June that Energy Transport Solutions had applied for a special permit to transport LNG in unit trains of tank cars. The public comment period on the permit request has closed.

DeFazio and Malinowski now are seeking follow-up information about the permit request. Both lawmakers have "serious concerns about the rush to allow LNG to be transported by rail when so little is known about the public safety risks," according to a press release issued by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

In a letter to PHMSA Administrator Howard Elliott, DeFazio and Malinowski asked that if PHSMA is still considering the special permit before it receives the safety test results, then a revised draft permit should be made available to the public with the operating conditions that PHMSA and the Federal Railroad Administration are considering before the special permit is finalized.

"The requested special permit presents unique and substantial risk to the safety of the public and the environment," the letter stated. "Should even one rail tank car get punctured, the results could be catastrophic."

Last month, DeFazio attached an amendment to appropriations bill H.R. 3055 that would prohibit the U.S. transportation secretary from finalizing a rulemaking and issuing a special permit for LNG to be transported by rail.

In April, President Donald Trump issued an executive order calling for LNG to be moved through the United States in rail tank cars within 13 months. On June 6, PHMSA advanced a plan to authorize six trains, of 100 or more tank cars, to move LNG for export.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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