Nessel opposes proposal to allow rail transportation of liquified natural gas

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on Monday joined 15 other attorneys general in urging the Trump Administration to withdraw a proposal that would allow for the bulk transport of liquefied natural gas (LNG) along existing rail corridors without any added safety measures.

The letter was filed in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). In their letter, the attorneys general called on the agency to withdraw its proposal until PHMSA and the Federal Railways Administration complete safety studies and then develop a full Environmental Impact Statement that rigorously considers the public safety and climate change implications of permitting the nationwide transport of LNG by rail. 

LNG is an extremely hazardous substance. If not stored at -260°F or lower, it will quickly turn into natural gas—a highly flammable, odorless, and potentially explosive substance. Federal hazardous materials regulations currently do not permit LNG to be transported by rail, but an Executive Order signed by President Trump in April 2019 directed the U.S. Department of Transportation to propose a rule to permit the transportation of LNG in approved rail tank cars.

“Allowing the transportation of Liquefied Natural Gas along our railways without fully analyzing the safety risks has the potential to put our residents and our environment in danger,” Nessel said. “This is yet another attack on states’ efforts to protect our residents and environment, and my colleagues and I strongly oppose the federal government on this.” 

Michigan’s railway system is composed of approximately 3,600 miles of tracks.

Nessel joins the attorneys general of California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington in urging the federal agency to withdraw its rule.