December 3, 2021
Regulators seek to suspend Trump rule on railway natural gas

Regulators seek to suspend Trump rule on railway natural gas

OMAHA, Neb. — Federal regulators have proposed suspending a Trump administration rule that will have allowed railroads to haul liquefied natural gas whereas they take a more in-depth have a look at the potential security dangers.

The rule, which was backed by each the natural gas and freight rail industries, had already been on maintain as a result of a number of environmental teams and 14 states filed lawsuits difficult it.

The federal Pipelines and Hazardous Supplies Security Administration mentioned the uncertainty in regards to the rule additionally saved firms from investing within the specialised rail tank vehicles that had been required, so railroads have not truly dealt with any shipments of the flammable and odorless liquid often known as LNG for the reason that rule was issued final summer season.

The rule would have required enhancements — together with a thicker outer tank fabricated from metal with a higher puncture resistance — to the permitted tank automobile design that, for many years, has been permitted for shipments of different flammable cryogenic supplies, corresponding to liquid ethylene and liquid ethane.

However of their lawsuit, environmental teams argued that these new railcars, which have but to be constructed, had been untested and may not face up to high-speed impacts, rising the specter of an explosive prepare derailment alongside rail strains that cross straight by the guts of most cities.

“We don’t believe that LNG by rail should have ever been authorized in the first place, so we look forward to the authorization being suspended,” mentioned Bradley Marshall, who’s a senior legal professional with Earthjustice which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the environmental teams.

A spokesman for California Lawyer Normal Rob Bonta additionally praised the Biden administration’s determination to suspend the rule. Bonta’s workplace mentioned he would proceed the problem to the rule began by his predecessor as a result of he believes “this rule is unlawful” and regulators did not correctly consider all of the environmental dangers.

In addition to California, the opposite states that challenged the rule included Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Washington D.C. was additionally a part of the lawsuit.

The lawsuits have all been put on maintain whereas federal regulators overview the rule, which may take till the summer season of 2024.

Earlier than this rule was issued final summer season, federal hazardous supplies rules allowed shipments of LNG by truck, however not by rail, besides with a particular allow.

The transfer to abandon the rule permitting LNG shipments by rail comes as natural gas costs and exports are surging in the USA. And ongoing courtroom and regulatory battles have slowed growth of pipelines that will assist ship the nation’s world-leading gas manufacturing to markets.

The long-term development in LNG exports has continued to set information, in accordance to the most recent federal figures. U.S. LNG exports averaged 9.6 billion cubic ft per day throughout the first six months of this yr because the economic system continued to get well from the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokeswoman for the Affiliation of American Railroads commerce group defended the rail trade’s security monitor document and mentioned railroads would have the option to deal with LNG shipments if given the chance.

“Railroads continue to be the safest way to move hazardous materials over land with 99.99% of all hazmat shipment arriving at their destination without incident,” mentioned Jessica Kahanek with the railroad group. “The rail industry remains confident that DOT’s ongoing research will affirm that with the right precautions rail is a responsible transportation solution for moving LNG if their customers request it.”

One of many industrial backers of the concept of transport LNG by rail included a proposed mission from a subsidiary of New Fortress Power that wished to use rail to haul LNG from northern Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale natural gas fields to a yet-to-be-built storage terminal at a former explosives plant in New Jersey, alongside the Delaware River close to Philadelphia.

The Trump administration had issued a particular allow to that mission in 2019. If it had been constructed, most of that LNG was anticipated to be exported to international markets for electrical energy manufacturing.

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