Saturday, July 25, 2020

HR 7616 Reported in House – FY 2021 THUD Spending

Last week the House Appropriations Committee completed crafting and reporting on HR 7616, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2021. The bill does not contain any specific cybersecurity or chemical transportation-safety requirements, but both areas are addressed in the Committee Report.


On page 74 the Report addresses Committee cybersecurity concerns about Amtrak train control systems and a 2019 Amtrak OIG report on those security issues. The Committee “directs Amtrak to comply with the OIG recommendations to improve the cyber security and resiliency of Amtrak’s train control systems” and to prepare a report for Congress on their actions.

On page 83 the Committee directs the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to work with DOT and CISA “to ensure that the agency is complying with best practices for the procurement of Industrial Control Systems.” Additionally WMATA is directed to” to include analysis of Internet of Things (IoT) and unknown and unauthorized devices in its cybersecurity plan.”

Chemical Transportation Safety

The report covers a number of issues related to liquified natural gas (LNG) transportation and handling. On pages 93 thru 94 there is an entire section related to LNG by rail transportation. The Committee requires a number of reports from the PHMSA about safety issues related to LNG by rail. The section closes out with the statement:

“Further, the Committee notes that the INVEST in America Act [HR 2; passed by the House and not likely to be taken up by the Senate] requires the Department to rescind any special permit or approval for the transportation of LNG by rail tank cars and places a stay on any regulation authorizing the transportation of LNG by rail tank cars until the Department completes a thorough evaluation of the safety, security, and environmental risks of transporting LNG by rail.”

On page 96 the Report addresses safety issues at LNG facilities (also regulated by PHMSA). It notes that the Committee “supports PHMSA’s efforts to hire 5 inspectors and engineers to help address the potential risks associated with LNG facilities.” It also expresses concerns about delays in the rulemaking efforts to update 49 CFR 193.

In two different areas the Report addresses the safe transportation of ‘energy products’. On pages 94 thru 95 addresses safety issues related to the transportation of crude oil by rail and includes a requirement for a congressional briefing “on the findings and recommendations of the Crude Oil Characterization Research Study [link added].” DOE and DOT have already sent their required report, the Report to Congress on the Crude Oil Characterization Study, to Congress.

The second area where the Report addresses ‘energy products is in pages 96 thru 97 where ‘energy products training’ is covered. It closes the short discussion by noting:

“As PHMSA’s responsibilities for the safe movement of LNG expands, the Committee directs PHMSA to enhance its training curriculum for local emergency responders to account for LNG facilities and the transportation of LNG in rail tank cars.”

Moving Forward

HR 7616 will be included in the second spending minibus, HR 7617. The House Rules Committee will meet on Tuesday to formulate the rule for consideration of this much longer and more controversial spending bill.

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