Thursday, April 29, 2021

S 1012 Introduced – Protecting LNG by Rail

Last month, Sen Cruz (R,TX) introduced S 1012, a bill to prohibit the Secretary of Transportation from prohibiting the transportation of liquefied natural gas by rail, and for other purposes. The bill would stop DOT from modifying last summer’s final rule allowing the shipment of LNG by rail. A similar bill, HR 2100 was introduced in the House.

The Language

The bill is a short piece of legislation, only one section and no fancy title. It would not only stop DOT from initiating rulemakings to prohibit the transportation of LNG by rail, it would also prevent any rulemakings that “restricts or contracts the scope of allowance provided by the final rule of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, titled “Hazardous Materials: Liquefied Natural Gas by Rail”, which was published in the Federal Register on July 24, 2020 (85 Fed. Reg. 44994)” {§1(a)(2)}. It would, however, allow DOT “to issue short-term emergency orders related to the transportation of liquefied natural gas by rail” {§1(b)}.

Moving Forward

Cruz is a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee to which this bill was assigned for consideration. This could mean that there would be enough influence to have this bill considered in Committee. In this case, however, I think that opposition for Democrats would be sufficient to stop the bill from being considered. If it were considered it would fail on a party line vote or maybe even have one or two Republicans vote against it. It could never make it to the floor of the Senate for consideration.


Cruz and his two cosponsors {Sen Kennedy (R,LA) and Sen Cramer (R,ND)} are all from natural gas producing states. They are very aware of the general opposition in the Democratic Party to the shipment of natural gas by rail, and really, almost anything to do with natural gas in general. It is very likely that DOT will start some sort of rulemaking limiting LNG shipments or flatly overturning the Trump Administration’s rule allowing such shipments.

The three Senators know that there is no possible way for this bill to move forward in the Senate in this session. Even in a narrowly Republican Senate, this bill would face too much stiff opposition from Democrats to be able to get anywhere. The same will hold true on HR 2100 in the House. This bill and it’s House counterpart were introduced just to show the member’s constituents that they were trying to do something to protect the interests of natural gas shippers, the two bills are political gestures, nothing more.

Frankly, I am surprised that we have not seen a bill directing DOT to vacate the LNG by rail rule; something along the lines of §8202 of HR 2, the INVEST in America Act in the 116th Congress. Such a bill would be very unlikely to be considered in a split Senate, but it would be an important notice to environmental activists and chemical safety supporters of the Democratic Party.

One thing is for sure, this is not the last we have heard about LNG by rail in the 117th Congress.

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