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Environment & Energy Report

Trains Could Carry Liquefied Natural Gas Under Federal Proposal

Oct. 23, 2019, 1:50 PM

The growing liquefied natural gas market has the Trump administration considering how to safely allow its transportation via rail.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration are proposing a new regulation as a result of President Donald Trump’s April executive order on energy infrastructure and economic growth. The order directs the agencies to allow liquefied natural gas to be transported in approved rail tank cars.

The Federal Register filed a notice of the proposed rulemaking (RIN:2137-AF40) Oct. 23.

Once the regulation is in place, the agencies expect new specialized tank cars will need to be manufactured to meet demand for transporting liquefied natural gas by rail, since existing cars are mainly used for other hazardous liquids.

Under current regulations, liquefied natural gas can be transported via rail through a special Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration permit, or a portable tank approved by the Federal Railroad Administration. Liquefied natural gas is generally transported by highway and sea.

The Association of American Railroads supports allowing the commodity to travel by rail. Some railroads are exploring the use of liquefied natural gas as fuel for trains, according to the agency’s proposal.

The Center for Biological Diversity warned in 2017 that PHMSA shouldn’t permit transport of liquefied natural gas by rail unless the agency studies the potential for environmental impacts.

A final version of the agencies’ regulation must be published by May 2020, according to the executive order.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sylvia Carignan in Washington at scarignan@bloombergenvironment.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at ghenderson@bloombergenvironment.com; Anna Yukhananov at ayukhananov@bloombergenvironment.com