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New federal LNG-by-rail rule published, lawsuit likely

by Erika Green

The Trump administration has published a new rule that authorizes the bulk movement of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by rail, and that has resulted in two environmental groups announcing that they intend to sue because the rule creates a serious danger., Kallanish Energy reports

The Center for Biological Diversity and Earthjustice pledged to fight the new rule in court.

“The Trump administration’s reckless LNG rule risks explosions and fires in populated areas. We’ll fight to protect our communities from this deadly threat,” said Emily Jeffers, a, attorney with the biological center, in a statement.

A total of 22 tank cars filled with LNG is equal to the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in World War II, said Earthjustice attorney Bradley Marshall.

At least 16 state attorney generals have said they will fight to block such LNG-by-rail shipments.

The new rule had been finalized last month but it was printed last week in the Federal Register, as required under federal procedures.

The new rule released by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the Federal Railway Administration will allow LNG to be shipped in DOT 113-specification refrigerated tank cars.

The rule will also require enhanced outer tank requirements including a thicker carbon steel outer tank and additional operational controls.

The rule also requires remote monitoring of the pressure and the location of LNG tank cars. It also requires improved braking systems and two-way end-of-train or distributed power systems when a train is hauling LNG tank cars.

Last fall, the two agencies called such rail shipments a “potentially viable alternative to pipelines.”

The plan was supported by the Association of American Railroads.

The notice is a result of President Donald Trump’s April 2019 executive order on LNG and rail, mandating a federal rule by 2020.

Until now, LNG could only be transported via rail in a portable tank with approval from the federal rail agency.

However, federal rules do allow the DOT-113 tank car for other flammable cryogenic liquids.

One company, Energy Transport Solutions, has plans and a special federal permit to run 100-car unit trains filled with LNG to a proposed LNG export facility on the Delaware River in New Jersey.

It is a subsidiary of New Fortress Energy.

The LNG would be moved about 200 miles from liquefaction facilities in the Marcellus Shale in northeast Pennsylvania.

The proposal has come under fire from critics who say such shipments pose a major safety risk to local communities.

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