DOT suspends a Trump administration rule allowing liquified natural gas transport by rail

The suspension of the federal rule will remain in effect until either DOT passes a replacement rule that governs LNG by rail, or June 30, 2025 before LNG transport by rail can resume.

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Image Credit: Roy Luck/Flickr. CC BY 2.0

The Department of Transportation announced that it suspended a rule passed by the Trump administration allowing the transportation of liquified natural gas (LNG) by rail. The controversial rail rule was an intricate component of a proposal made by New Fortress Energy to build a new liquified gas export terminal in Gibbstown, NJ from which to transport LNG along the east coast.

While the company was denied a special permit to transport LNG by rail in April, the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) suspension of the federal rule will impede New Fortress Energy from transporting LNG from Wyalusing, PA to Gibbstown, NJ as part of the Gibbstown LNG Export Project.

“Suspending the outrageously dangerous Trump bomb train rule is a welcome relief to the communities that would be turned into sacrifice zones for a billionaire hedge fund tycoon to bet big on dirty gas exports,” Matt Smith, New Jersey state director of Food & Water Watch, said. “The victory goes to the powerful grassroots movement fighting back against the dangerous New Fortress export scheme and the enormous climate threat associated with the expansion of fracking and LNG.”

Grassroots campaigns in South Jersey and Pennsylvania opposed the proposed LNG project because of the “massive risks to public health and safety that would be presented by a gas-by-rail scheme,” according to a press release from Food & Water Watch.

“People of Pennsylvania and New Jersey living near key rail lines would have faced damage to their health, families, and homes in the event of a derailment,” Kimberly Ong, senior attorney at Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said. “New Fortress Energy’s proposed LNG project endangers nearly two million people living near truck and rail transport routes. LNG is a volatile substance that can lead to fires and even explosions. The rail disaster in East Palestine, Ohio, earlier this year underscores how serious a train derailment involving hazardous substances can be.”

Greg Lalevee, business manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825, said that “policymakers have to take a real look at what’s feasible, what’s affordable, and what’s clean.” The union represents more than 8,000 heavy equipment operators.

“They talk about trucks and trains, but pipelines are the safest way, and the same folks will protest that,” Lalevee said. “This seems to be a beard for the complete shutdown of the usage of natural gas. I hope that when they take comments for the rule making, they take them open-mindedly.”

New Fortress Energy has yet to comment on the rule’s suspension.

The suspension of the federal rule will remain in effect until either DOT passes a replacement rule that governs LNG by rail, which is yet in talks, or June 30, 2025 before LNG transport by rail can resume.

“This victory can, and must, go deeper,” Smith said “The Biden administration should take action to eliminate the threat of fracked gas bomb trains entirely, and it must do more to stop new fossil fuel projects across the country.”

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