LNG By Rail? New Rules Proposed

In a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) set to be published in the Federal Register Thursday, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in coordination with the Dept. of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), is proposing changes to the Hazardous Materials Regulations to allow for the bulk transport of liquefied natural gas (LNG), in rail tank cars.

LNG has been transported safely by highway trucks and marine vessels, but bulk transport of LNG in rail tank cars has not been allowed by hazardous materials rules (HMR). But the NPRM noted that between 2010 and 2018, the number of LNG facilities in the U.S. increased by 28.7% and total storage and vaporization capacities increased by 21% and 23%, respectively. Over the same period, total liquefaction capacity increased by 939% due to new LNG export terminals.

Those factors, combined with the long lead times required for adding pipeline infrastructure, suggests that there may be a demand for greater flexibility in the modes of transportation available to transport LNG, the NPRM said. PHMSA said it received a petition for rulemaking from the Association of American Railroads (AAR) proposing amendments to the HMR to allow for the transportation of LNG by rail in DOT-113 rail tank cars.

Following publication of the NPRMin the Federal Register, individuals and groups have 60 days to comment. A copy of the pre-publication document can be found here.

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