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Rep. Graves, Sen. Cruz Lead Coalition Calling on Biden Admin to Allow LNG By Rail

Call on Admin to End its Latest Attack on American Energy Lead Coalition Calling on Biden Admin to Allow LNG By Rail

Washington, D.C., October 26, 2023 | Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446
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U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) and U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) led a bicameral coalition of federal lawmakers calling on the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to reverse its suspension of rules allowing liquefied natural gas (LNG) by rail. In a letter to PHMSA Deputy Administrator Tristan Brown, the lawmakers raise concerns about PHMSA advancing the administration's green agenda, intentionally discouraging investment in American energy, and prioritizing radical policies at the expense of PHMSA's safety mission.

The coalition led by Rep. Graves and Sen. Cruz wrote,

“… This suspension, which is the latest attack in the Biden administration’s war on American energy, calls into question PHMSA’s commitment to its safety mission, PHMSA’s role in promoting the administration’s extreme green policies, and whether PHMSA will ever reasonably allow for the movement of LNG by rail.  We ask you to reverse this misstep or, at a minimum, act more rationally going forward.”

The lawmakers argued that PHMSA must focus on safety, including evidence that LNG can move more safely by rail than by highway:

“PHMSA is a safety agency, not an environmental agency, and is responsible for regulating the safe transportation of hazardous materials. Given its safety mission, the question PHMSA must consider is not whether LNG can be moved safely in tank cars by rail, but rather what restrictions are reasonable and justified?  After all, Transport Canada authorizes LNG transportation by rail tank car, and LNG has ‘been transported by marine vessel and truck for decades.’

“When issuing the LNG by rail rule in 2020, PHMSA leveraged the experience of safely moving many flammable commodities by rail and moving LNG by other modes.  Shippers have safely offered, and carriers have safely transported, other flammable cryogenic liquids in similar tank cars for years without fatalities or serious injuries…

“… From a safety perspective, it is absurd to remove these rail tank cars as an approved alternative to shipments of LNG by truck.  As PHMSA’s own data shows, movement of hazardous materials by highway is inherently less safe for the public…”

As they point out in the letter, the U.S. has led the world in reducing carbon emissions, in large part because of clean natural gas. LNG by rail would only boost efforts to provide affordable and environmentally responsible energy.

PHMSA’s suspension of the LNG by rail rule is part of a larger attack on domestic fossil fuel production that willfully ignores the attendant harms to consumers and national security. This effort comes from the highest level of the administration, as President Biden specifically targeted PHMSA’s LNG by rail rule through an alarmist, anti-fossil fuel executive order purporting ‘to Tackle the Climate Crisis.’

“After President Biden explicitly targeted the LNG by rail rule, PHMSA issued a proposal to suspend the LNG by rail rule later that year.   

“Under this cloud of regulatory uncertainty, no one has committed to moving LNG by rail, which would include the major capital expense of a fleet of robust LNG tank cars. PHMSA ignores this context, noting only the ‘considerable uncertainty regarding whether any would occur in the time it takes for PHMSA to consider potential modifications to the existing, pertinent HMR requirements,’ failing to recognize that this ‘considerable uncertainty’ was created by the agency itself.  Having suspended the LNG by rail rule and taken other actions targeting LNG, the Biden administration cannot now claim a lack of interest in transporting LNG by rail to justify its actions…

“…PHMSA uses the lack of recent LNG by rail investment to justify the suspension without recognizing that this lull has given PHMSA ample opportunity to evaluate the relevant safety requirements.  And yet, PHMSA has made no progress on the companion safety rulemaking…” 

“…PHMSA declares that the suspension ‘avoid[s] potential risks to public health and safety or environmental consequences (to include direct and indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions).’ In reality, the United States has led the world in reducing carbon emissions since peaking in 2007, largely because of America’s development and use of affordable and clean natural gas.  Greater transportation of LNG by rail would give Americans an affordable and environmentally responsible option to meet their energy needs.  Suspension of the LNG by rail rule is mere virtue signaling, not progress in reducing emissions.

The letter concludes,

“The safe movement of LNG by rail would benefit the economy and national security.  Given the importance of access to energy, PHMSA must reconsider its extremism towards LNG by rail.  We look forward to your response committing to reverse the suspension of the LNG by rail rule.” 

Joining Rep. Graves and Sen. Cruz in sending this letter were Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, Maritime, Freight, and Ports, and Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) Chairman of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials. Signers also include Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), and eighteen other members of the House of Representatives.

Read the full text of the letter HERE.


  • In July 2020, PHMSA issued a final rule authorizing the movement of LNG by rail tank car.  The regulation requires the use of the safest rail tank car available to transport cryogenic material together with certain operational controls to ensure safety. 
  • President Biden has targeted this rule since day one of his presidency, placing it on a list of regulatory actions for review accompanying his executive order on “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.” In November 2021, PHMSA proposed to suspend the rule. 
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