December 06, 2019

Chair DeFazio, Rep. Malinowski Slam PHMSA for Granting Special Permit to Move LNG by Rail, Posing Unknown Risks to Communities

Washington, DC – Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR), and Congressman Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) responded to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) announcement that, despite repeated objections from Members of Congress, safety and environmental groups, it has granted a Special Permit to a little-known company to transport liquefied natural gas (LNG) by rail tank car from Wyalusing, PA to Gibbstown, NJ for export.

“News of PHMSA’s decision to jump ahead of its notice of proposed rulemaking on moving LNG by rail and grant a special permit to Energy Transport Solutions, LLC to move LNG by rail tank car is deeply disturbing. This reckless move by the Administration puts communities in harm’s way. For months I have been sounding the alarm on this dangerous plan. Not only has PHMSA failed to take the proper steps of testing, analyzing or reviewing this unprecedented plan, it failed to provide Congress and the public the opportunity to consider whether the permit’s operating conditions sufficiently address the potential safety implications – an opportunity that’s required by law. The agency rushed its job, spending a measly six months considering this petition and the nearly 3,000 public comments it received. In June, Congress passed my amendment to prohibit DOT from finalizing the LNG by rail  rule that President Trump intends to rush through in 13 months. I urge the Senate to work with us to put a stop to these irresponsible actions,” said Chair DeFazio.  

“The movement of LNG by rail tank car presents unique and substantial risks to public safety and the environment. This decision by the Department of Transportation to allow LNG to move in large volumes without adequate safeguards is irresponsible, and yet another example of the Administration putting corporate interests over the safety of the American public,” said Congressman Malinowski. Additional Background:

June 24, 2019: The U.S. House of Representatives passed a Chairman DeFazio amendment to H.R. 3055, which would prohibit the Secretary of Transportation from finalizing a rulemaking and issuing a special permit to allow the transportation of LNG by rail tank car.

June 28, 2019: DeFazio and Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) sent a letter to PHMSA requesting additional information and an extension of the public comment period on the special permit to ensure transparency in the process. While PHMSA responded and agreed to extend the comment period and provided some information, it did not fully comply with the Members’ requests.

August 8, 2019: DeFazio and Malinowski sent a follow-up letter requesting that PHMSA comply with the statutory requirements for authorizing a special permit by disclosing adequate information and questioning the rationale for moving forward with a special permit without conducting a proper safety analysis.