PHMSA LNG by rail car exception 2019-06-06

Alachua County, New Jersey legislators, WWALS, and the U.S. House of Representatives oppose this PHMSA LNG-by-rail exception, and you can, too.

[Special Permit- Draft-0001]
Special Permit- Draft-0001

PHMSA proposes to authorize LNG in ordinary cryogenic rail cars, in an exception for a subsidiary of the company that owns Hialeah LNG and already sends LNG in containers by rail for export. “In most cases, ETS would expect that the ultimate end-users of this LNG will be foreign generators of power for residential, commercial and industrial purposes,” says the Draft Environmental Assessment. Why should we risk our homes, schools, businesses, hospitals, etc. for private export profit from New Fortress Energy’s Hialeah LNG plant near Miami? Or for a liquefaction plant in Pennsylvania or New Jersey?

PHMSA posted this extension request on June 3rd, and the deadline for comment is this Monday, July 8, 2019. WWALS signed onto an extension request by Physicians for Social Responsibility. You can still send in a copy of that request or other comments by Monday. WWALS will be filing another comment letter, as well.

The only ETS google maps finds in Doral, FL, is ETS, www.ets.org, which is an education testing service. Energy Transport Solutions (ETS), is etsmo.com, and is based in Bates City, Missouri.

So what does Energy Transport Solutions have to do with Doral, FL? According to SEC filings, that ETS is a subsidiary of New Fortress Energy LLC (NFE), which as www.newfortressenergy.com has an office in Miami, not far from Doral, and the Hialeah LNG facility in between (known to NFE as its Miami Liquefier).

Still, what’s in Doral? This is one of many unanswered questions about this hasty exception. NFE “maintains an office” in Doral, according to John Gallagher, Freight Waves, 14 June 2019, Regulators clearing the tracks for rail shipments of “freedom gas”.

John Gallagher, FreightWaves, 25 June 2019, U.S. House Votes To Block Rail Tank Cars Of LNG,

Citing safety concerns, the House approved an appropriations bill amendment on June 24 that would prohibit the Secretary of Transportation from issuing a special permit to Energy Transport Solutions LLC (ETS), a subsidiary of New Fortress Energy (NASDAQ: NFE), to move multiple sets of 100-car unit trains of LNG in rail tank cars, for use domestically and for export. A comment period on an environmental assessment of the company’s plans is set to expire on July 8.

The amendment, which would also prohibit the movement of LNG by rail tank car generally, would potentially block an executive order issued by President Trump on April 10 allowing LNG to be moved in rail tank cars within 13 months.

“In its never-ending quest to put profit ahead of people, the Trump Administration is now trying to bypass long-standing requirements for transportation of LNG by putting it into 100-car trains that roll through densely populated areas at upwards of 50 miles per hour,” said House Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon), who sponsored the amendment.

“This plan is beyond absurd. Should even one tank car get punctured, the results could be devastating. My amendment blocks this brazen attempt by the administration. I urge the Senate to follow suit and stop a massive catastrophe before it’s too late.”

Examples of what could go wrong are supplied by Ann Henson Feltgen, Florida Bulldog, 2 July 2019, LNG ‘freedom molecules” coming soon to railroad tracks around the country. She also notes:

Other companies are targeting Florida, with Crowley Maritime and Eagle LNG operating a shore side LNG facility at the Crowley Talleyrand Marine Terminal of the Jacksonville Port Authority. The companies are planning for servicing Crowley’s new LNG-powered vessels for U.S.-Puerto Rico trade. Crowley operates a liquefaction plant in West Jacksonville and transfers LNG by truck to the port.

Crowley also is constructing a storage facility on two acres near its port operations to hold 2,000 cubic meters of LNG to fuel its two LNG-powered tankers.

Two months ago, a ribbon-cutting ceremony heralded another LNG facility opening on the St. John’s River in Jacksonville. JAX LNG identifies itself as the first small-scale LNG facility in the United States with both on-site marine and truck-loading capabilities. The “state-of-the-art” facility was constructed through a joint venture between Pivotal LNG and NorthStar Midstream, a storage and transport company.

She doesn’t mention that JAX LNG has no known permit by FERC or PHMSA or DoE Office of Fossil Energy; just a letter from the Coast Guard.

One thing that was learned after the 2007 Jacksonville, FL, T2 Laboratories chemical explosion was that the permits required were few and T2 didn’t file all of them. The CSB report notes, “Although the owner/chemical engineer told employees he thought a fire would occur, none of the T2 employees appreciated the potential for a catastrophic explosion.” History seems to be repeating itself, with not just one but two complete and one building LNG liquefaction facilities in Jacksonville. As Scott Berger, executive director of the Center for Chemical Process Safety, said in 2009, “you can’t solve a problem that you don’t recognize exists.” The difference is this time we know the problem exists, even if NFE and PHMSA pretend it doesn’t, and the solution is no LNG.

Among members of DeFazio’s House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure are:

  • Daniel Webster (R FL-11), of Citrus and south Marion Counties, with Strom LNG and Sabal Trail;
  • Brian Mast (R FL-18), of Martin County and Palm Beach Counties, ground central for FPL, FSC, and LNG by rail;
  • Frederica S. Wilson (D FL-24), whose district is just east of Hialeah, and contains rail routes from it;
  • Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D FL-26), whose farthest south Florida district may not contain any LNG rail routes, but would be economically affected anyway;
  • Hank Johnson (D GA-04), whose whose southeast Atlanta metro district may not contain any LNG faciltiies, but he has previously co-signed a letter against Sabal Trail;
  • Rob Woodall (R GA-07), whose northeast Atlanta metro area district either contains or is next to Pivotal LNG’s Cherokee LNG liquefier in Ball Ground, GA.

If any of these are your representative, you may want to contact them.

PSR Extension Request

PHMSA ID: PHMSA-2019-0100-0030, Tracking Number: 1k3-9at8-8d03, Filed: 3 July 2019.

July 2, 2019

William Schoonover
Associate Administrator for Hazardous Materials Safety
Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation, East Building PHH-30
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, D.C. 20590

Dear Mr. Schoonover:

On behalf of our members, who include health and medical professionals, scientists, environmentalists and concerned members of the public, we write to request a prompt extension of the deadline for comments to your agency on the draft Environmental Assessment for proposed Special Permit SP 20534. This Special Permit would allow Energy Transport Solutions, LLC to transport “Methane, Refrigerated Liquid” (UN1972), commonly known as liquefied natural gas (LNG), by DOT-113C120W rail tank cars in unit train or manifest train service.

We are concerned that inadequate attention has been paid to the potential posed by LNG transport by train for severe fire and safety risks to communities from LNG train derailments, fires, explosions, and other hazards.

In the case of an LNG train derailment and release of LNG, the LNG would likely return to vapor form, quickly forming a vapor cloud that could ignite and cause an intense fire, potentially affecting people, property, and natural resources. If the LNG failed to ignite initially, the unignited LNG vapor cloud could move over a large distance, find an ignition source, and burn back to the point of the LNG release. The consequences could be deadly.

We note the relatively recent oil train derailments that have taken place in North America—such as Lac Megantic, Quebec, Mosier, Oregon, and over a dozen other communities—that demonstrate the potential that rail-related accidents can and do lead to health hazards, public safety risks, environmental damage, and even fatalities.

The comment period for the Environmental Assessment is currently set to close on July 8. Given the potential for grave impacts on human health potentially associated with LNG transport by rail, and the paucity of data and analysis provided on those concerns in the Environmental Assessment, we respectfully request an extension of the comment period to 90 days so that we and other interested parties can gather the information necessary for informed comments and submit our comments in timely fashion.

We plan to comment on the docket at https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=PHMSA-2019-0100-0001

You can file a copy of that letter saying you support the extension request.

Or file your own comment.

Or contribute to the WWALS LNG export lawsuit fund.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

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