Debate over moving liquefied natural gas by rail hits the fan

Written by David C. Lester, Editor-in-Chief
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The project will provide a direct link for oil from Utah to the Gulf Coast.
David C. Lester

In April of this year, the Trump administration directed the U.S. Department of Transportation to allow railroads to haul liquefied natural gas in special tank cars within 13 months. This was driven by New Fortress Energy’s request for permission to haul LNG by rail.

Last week, Congress said not so fast.  Pete DeFazio (D-Ore.), the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, along with Congressman Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) introduced a bill last week that calls for careful investigation into the risks of moving LNG by rail before they will consider the matter further.

DeFazio said “The administration’s absurd plan to allow trains of up to 100 cars filled with LNG to move by rail is extremely reckless. Putting LNG into rail cars and moving it through highly populated communities presents a significant risk to the safety of the public and the environment, with the possibility of catastrophic consequences.”

Part of the lawmakers’ interest in studying the issue is based on the rail industry’s plans to run longer trains and efforts to reduce train crews to one person.

The Association of American Railroads, however, praised the White House’s directive in April, as the industry is interested in the additional business, and believes that rail is a very safe mode for transporting LNG.

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