June 19, 2020

Chair DeFazio, Rep. Malinowski Slam Trump Administration for Jeopardizing Public Safety by Allowing LNG Transport by Rail Tank Car

Washington, DC – Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Congressman Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) responded to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) finalization of the rule to transport liquefied natural gas (LNG) by rail tank car.

“Of all the ways the Trump administration seeks to put profits over people, this action is one of the most reckless yet. Should even one LNG tank car get punctured, the results could be far more devastating than most freight train disasters we’ve seen, yet this administration still fast-tracked a plan to move LNG by rail tank car through populated areas with a sham process whose outcome was a forgone conclusion,” Chair DeFazio said. “Ever since President Trump issued his executive order last year, I’ve done everything in my power to block this reckless plan from moving forward. It was disappointing the Senate failed to pass my amendment to prohibit DOT from finalizing this rule last summer, but thankfully just last night our Committee passed the INVEST in America Act, which includes my provision directing the Administration to do what it should have done from day one:  thoroughly analyze the safety, security, and environmental risks of moving LNG by rail. I will continue to press forward on this important issue and urge my Senate colleagues to work with me to pass this important provision, because the potential for a catastrophic accident is too big a risk.”  

“The movement of highly-flammable liquefied natural gas by rail tank car without adequate safeguards in place presents substantial risks to the public and to the environment,” Rep. Malinowski said. “This final rule is yet another shameful example of this Administration putting corporate interests over the safety of the American public.”

Additional Background: 

June 18, 2020: The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed H.R. 2, the INVEST in America Act, which includes a provision requiring DOT to rescind any authorization for the transport of liquified natural gas (LNG) by rail tank car issued before the date of enactment. The legislation also prohibits DOT from issuing a regulation or special permit to authorize the transport of LNG by rail tank car until DOT conducts a further safety evaluation.

June 24, 2019: The U.S. House of Representatives passed a 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. 

August 8, 2019: DeFazio and Malinowski sent a follow-up letter to PHMSA requesting an update on the status of the special permit for Energy Transport Solutions, LLC to move LNG by rail now that the public comment period has closed.