PHMSA Proposes Suspension of Transportation of Liquefied Natural Gas in Rail Tank Cars

In the November 8, 2021 issue of the Federal Register, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) proposed to suspend the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR), 49 CFR §§ 171-180, currently authorizing the transportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in rail tank cars. The proposed suspension would continue until the completion of a separate rulemaking under RIN 2137-AF54, to evaluate potential modifications to the requirements governing rail tank car transportation of LNG, or June 30, 2024, whichever is earlier. PHMSA will receive public comments through December 23, 2021 as a final rule is developed.

 

On July 24, 2020, PHMSA published the LNG by Rail final rule, 85 Fed. Reg. 44994, which authorized the transportation of LNG by rail in DOT-113C120W specification rail tank cars with enhanced outer tank requirements. The LNG by Rail final rule is currently the subject of several petitions for judicial review. Six environmental groups, attorneys generals from 14 states and the District of Columbia, and the Payallup Tribe of Indians have alleged violations of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act. Further, Executive Order 13990 (January 20, 2021), requires the review of agency regulations and other actions promulgated or adopted between January 20, 2017 and January 20, 2021 that are candidates for suspension, modification, or recission because of inconsistencies with administrative policy.