Foxx signs ANPR seeking comments on crude-oil vapor pressure idea

US Sec. of Transportation Anthony Foxx has signed an advanced notice of possible rulemaking (ANPR) seeking government, industry, and public contributions on questions about establishing a vapor pressure threshold for crude oil as it is being transported.

Such a threshold could help the US Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which issued the ANPR, and other transportation regulators evaluate its potential benefits within the hazardous materials classification process. Comments will be accepted for 60 days following the ANPR’s publication in the Federal Register, where it was sent on Jan 11.

“The American energy landscape is constantly evolving and we need to understand the full scope of safety risks involved with moving energy products in new ways,” PHMSA Administrator Marie Therese Dominguez said.

DOT said it has taken more than 30 actions in the past 2 years to improve crude-by-rail safety, including issuing a comprehensive rulemaking package in May 2015 to improve tank car durability, braking and the safe transportation of energy products, and issuing multiple safety advisories and emergency orders.

The department also continues collaborating with the US Department of Energy and Sandia National Laboratories on a study to better understand characteristics of crude oil from the Bakken shale in North Dakota, to determine the best sampling and testing methods for this type of crude, and to better understand how vapor pressure affects transportation safety. Long-term findings of this study will continue to inform PHMSA’s rulemaking considerations, DOT said.

The American Petroleum Institute and nine other oil and gas industry and other business trade associations asked PHMSA last summer to clarify its role as a rail tank car safety regulator and the industry’s role in recommending and developing new standards.

Contact Nick Snow at

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