The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) proposed temporary suspension of its regulations authorizing the transportation of liquefied natural gas by rail have prompted not only the Railway Supply Institute to weigh in, but also the Republican members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and a coalition of attorneys general from 14 states and Washington, D.C.; all submitted comments on the agency’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released late last year.
Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
On Nov. 8, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would suspend the transportation of liquefied natural gas by rail “until more research and testing can be done to ensure the safety of moving this commodity by rail.” The NPRM would presumably negate a Final Rule issued in 2019.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in consultation with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), issued on June 19 a final rule authorizing the bulk transportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by rail.
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) on May 7 filed comments with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) that call for the U.S. Department of Transportation “to take the same supportive regulatory approach with railroads that it has with automation of trucks and cars.”
President Donald J. Trump on Sept. 8 announced his intent to nominate CSX executive Howard R. “Skip” Elliott to be Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), U.S. Department of Transportation.
Two months into the Trump Administration, the Washington Post says his nomination process, leading to Senate confirmation, is moving more slowly than any in history. The New York Times describes “dust piling up in key offices … critical power centers in [Trump’s] government devoid of leadership.”
In a rarity in Congress, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Railroad Emergency Services Preparedness, Operational Needs, and Safety Evaluation (RESPONSE) Act on May 11, 2016.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is soliciting applications from states for $10 million in competitive grant funding to improve highway-rail grade crossings and right-of-way along routes that transport energy products such as crude oil and ethanol. Funding comes from the STEP (Safe Transportation of Energy Products) by Rail program administered by PHMSA (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration).
The U.S. Senate on August 5, 2015 officially confirmed the appointment of Marie Therese Dominguez as Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Dominguez, who began serving as Administrator on June 22, was first nominated by President Barack Obama for the role on May 29.
The Federal Railroad Administration on July 22, 2015 sent a reminder to railroads transporting crude oil that the Emergency Order issued May 7, 2014 (Docket No. DOT-OST-2014-0067) requiring them to notify State Emergency Response Commissions (SERCs) and Tribal Emergency Response Commissions (TERCs) of the expected movement of Bakken crude oil trains through individual states and tribal regions remains in effect and “will be made permanent,” as previously announced.