The DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a direct final rule in the Federal Register (81 FR 53935-53957) implementing the Congressionally directed changes to the rules concerning the transportation of flammable liquids by rail. Congress mandated these changes in Title VII of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015 (HR 22 – PL 114-94).
NOTE: This rule was approved by OMB back on July 29th. The two-week delay in publishing this rule indicates that the Administration is apparently doing an extra level of political approval of rule publication in trying to avoid charges of midnight rulemaking in the last six months of its tenure.
This rule implements the following Congressional mandates:
• Changes to the DOT 111 Retrofit Schedule (FAST Act §7304);
• DOT 117 and DOT 117R Thermal Protection Blanket (FAST Act §7305); and
• DOT 117R Top Fittings Protection (FAST Act §7306);
The main change in this rule is that it implements the FAST Act requirement that mandated a commodity-specific phase-out of all DOT-111 tank cars used to transport Class 3 flammable liquids. The rule implements the mandate that the phase-out proceeds regardless of train composition and requires that all tank cars used to transport Class 3 flammable liquids meet the DOT-117, DOT-117P, or DOT-117R requirements. The new phase-out dates are based upon commodities (crude oil, ethanol, and by packing group by all other flammable liquids). The new phase-out dates for crude oil and ethanol generally reflect the original phase out dates for Packing Group I and Packing Group II respectively.
The effective date for this rule is August 15th, 2016.