Wyden, Merkley Press Trump Admin on LNG By Rail Safety

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today expressed concerns over the Trump administration’s proposed rules on the transportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by rail. 

In a letter to Administrator Howard Elliott, head of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration at the U.S. Department of Transportation, the senators emphasized that the loosening of transportation regulations for LNG by rail in proposed rulemaking poses a risk to public safety in Oregon and nationwide.

The senators wrote, “We are concerned that significantly loosening restrictions on the transport of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by rail would pose serious threats to public safety that do not appear to have been adequately considered by this rulemaking… Rather than await further proof of safety and reliability through small-scale transportation of LNG by rail, this proposal is opening the floodgates to bulk transportation without sufficient analysis to provide adequate safety guidelines.”      

The senators mentioned their concerns over loosening regulations considering multiple accidents involving trains carrying hazardous materials, including a 2016 derailment in Mosier, Oregon that spilled 42,000 gallons of crude oil in the Columbia River Gorge and sparked a large fire. 

“In our home state of Oregon, we have seen the risks firsthand… Many of Oregon’s smaller and more rural areas have limited emergency response resources, let alone capabilities to deal with hazardous materials such as LNG that could devastate their communities,” the senators wrote.

In August 2019, Wyden introduced a bill to improve safety of oil trains and protect local communities against derailments.

A copy of the letter is available here.