Regulators want Trump’s rule allowing railroads to transport natural gas suspended.

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Regulators want Trump’s rule allowing railroads to transport natural gas to be suspended.

OMAHA, NEBRASKA

— Federal regulators have proposed suspending a Trump administration rule allowing railroads to transport liquefied natural gas while they investigate the potential safety risks.

Several environmental groups and 14 states had filed lawsuits challenging the rule, which was backed by both the natural gas and freight rail industries.

Because of the uncertainty surrounding the rule, companies have been hesitant to invest in the specialized rail tank cars that were required, according to the federal Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, railroads haven’t handled any LNG shipments since the rule was issued last summer.

The rule would have required improvements to the approved tank car design, which has been approved for shipments of other flammable cryogenic materials, such as liquid ethylene and liquid ethane, for decades.

Environmental groups, on the other hand, argued in their lawsuit that the new railcars, which have yet to be built, were untested and might not be able to withstand high-speed impacts, increasing the risk of a deadly train derailment along rail lines that run through the heart of most cities.

“We don’t believe LNG by rail should have ever been approved in the first place,” said Bradley Marshall, a senior attorney with Earthjustice, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the environmental groups.

The Biden administration’s decision to suspend the rule was also praised by a spokesman for California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

Bonta’s office stated that he intends to continue his predecessor’s legal challenge to the rule because he believes “this rule is unlawful” and that regulators failed to adequately assess all environmental risks.

Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington are among the states that have challenged the rule.

The lawsuit also included Washington, DC.

All of the lawsuits have been put on hold while federal regulators examine the rule, which may take until the summer of 2024.

Prior to the publication of this rule last summer, federal hazardous materials regulations permitted…

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