Last year, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration began to seek public comment on the proposal to move LNG in DOT-113 tank cars. Liquified natural gas can currently move by truck, or by rail only in a portable tank, with approval by the FRA.
On Jan. 13, a coalition of attorneys general came out against the proposal in comments filed with federal regulators.
“Here in Maryland, we need only remember the Howard Street Tunnel Fire of 2001 to know that sending hazardous materials along our rail lines can have catastrophic consequences,” says Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh.
The 2001 derailment in Baltimore of a 60-car CSX Transportation train sparked a blaze that burned for hours and consumed multiple cargoes including paper, pulp products, hydrochloric acid, and propylene glycol.
In addition to Maryland, the comment letter was signed by the attorneys general of 14 states and the District of Columbia.
In June 2019, the House of Representatives passed an amendment trying to prohibit the U.S. Department of Transportation from issuing permits to move LNG by rail. The amendment was in response to an executive order that directed the Secretary of Transportation to finalize a rule that would “treat LNG the same as other cryogenic liquids and permit LNG to be transported in approved rail cars.”
In December, PHMSA granted a special permit to Energy Transport Solutions LLC to move LNG in DOT-113 tank cars from Wyalusing, Pa., and Gibbstown, N.J. The move was quickly blasted by U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, who says the decision to issue the permit was “reckless”.