Stop LNG by Rail

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration


The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a federal rule on July 24, 2020 that lifted the long-standing ban on LNG transport by rail (Docket PHMSA-2018-0025 (HM-264)). The federal rule authorized the bulk transportation of LNG by rail tank car for carriers nationwide, following a 2019 executive order by then-President Trump directing the Department of Transportation to authorize the movement of LNG by rail car to boost the energy industry and LNG exports (the "Trump Rule").

The Biden Administration’s PHMSA issued a proposed rule to suspend the Trump Rule (while they research safety issues) with a comment period that closed in December 2021 (Docket PHMSA-2021-0058 (HM-264A)). As of the date of this petition, there has not been a PHMSA decision on the suspension. Thus, we call on PHMSA to adopt the rule that will suspend the Trump Rule.

Prior to the Trump Rule, a Special Permit (Special Permit DOT-SP 20534), the first of its kind, was issued for transport of LNG by rail car from Wyalusing, PA to Gibbstown, NJ for a proposed LNG export terminal on the Delaware River. The Special Permit expired November 30, 2021 and PHMSA is currently deciding how to handle the application. We are calling on PHMSA to deny the request for this Special Permit.

Transportation of LNG in rail cars is a reckless decision that exposes millions of people and vulnerable resources to the potentially catastrophic effects of a release of LNG. The Special Permit for the Gibbstown LNG export terminal proposed up to 100-car unit trains twice a day through many communities of color and low-income populations already overburdened with environmental injustices. Just 22 tank cars hold the equivalent energy of the Hiroshima bomb (which is why they are dubbed "bomb trains").

LNG is liquefied methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas (GHG) 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in heating the atmosphere on a 20-year time scale and 104 times more powerful over a 10-year period, the periods of time when scientists say we must reduce GHG emissions to address the climate crisis. Methane leaks and/or is vented in all phases of the LNG production process, including storage, transport, transloading and use. The Biden administration has pledged to slash methane emissions. Pushing LNG onto train tracks, enabling export of LNG overseas, and stepping up gas extraction does the opposite.

We further call on PHMSA to adopt further rulemaking to permanently and categorically ban transport of LNG on our nation’s railways. This ban must prevent the approval of any and all separately issued LNG by rail Special Permits for the same public safety, environmental and climate reasons, including SP 20534, because they endanger our communities and the environment.

ALL our communities must be protected!

To: Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
From: [Your Name]

We, the undersigned, call upon President Biden and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to take decisive action to protect our communities. Our communities must not be exposed to the threat to their safety posed by LNG transportation by rail.

1. We call upon PHMSA to adopt proposed rule RIN 2137–AF55 in order to suspend the previous federal administration’s federal rule that authorized LNG to be transported on the nation’s railways.

2. Deny a renewal request by Energy Transport Solutions of Special Permit DOT-SP 20534, authorized in 2019, for the transport of LNG from a planned LNG liquefaction plant in Wyalusing Township, PA to the Gibbstown Logistics Center in Gibbstown, NJ. The trains would cut through hundreds of communities, including densely populated areas such as Wilkes Barre, Reading, Allentown, and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania and Camden and other southern municipalities in New Jersey. The permit was never used and the renewal request was received at the last minute.

3. We call upon PHMSA and the Biden administration to permanently ban the transport of LNG on the nation’s railways, as was the status for decades, prior to the previous administration’s rulemaking to permit it and to deny approval for Special Permits before the ban is adopted.