by Thomas Catenacci
Half of all U.S. states penned a letter to the Biden administration, arguing against its decision to reverse a Trump-era rule allowing energy firms to transport natural gas via rail.
The 25-state coalition said that proposed prohibition of natural gas rail transport would have “devastating effects” on the economy and national security, according to the letter led by Republican Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry. The Monday letter was addressed to Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) Acting Administrator Tristan Brown.
“Biden’s war on energy is a war on America’s poor and working-class,” Landry said in a statement Monday evening. “It is high time the Biden Administration to put America first. Biden’s environmental virtue-signaling is burdening American families and jeopardizing the safety and security of our homeland.”
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Natural gas is the largest source of electricity production in the U.S., accounting for about 40% of all generation, according to the Energy Information Administration. The Republican attorneys general’s letter noted, citing Environmental Protection Agency data, that greenhouse gas emissions have decreased 11.7% overall and a whopping 33.1% from electricity generation between 2005-2019.
They argued emissions have decreased as reliance on natural gas has increased over the past decade. Relying on domestic natural gas production for electricity generation also makes the U.S. less dependent on foreign producers, the states said.
“The growth in U.S. gas production is a geopolitical and economic asset, contributing to our national and global energy security,” the letter stated.
Boost US Production
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops to invade Ukraine, leading to reports of missile attacks, shelling, deadly firefights in city streets and an estimated 536 civilian casualties. Following the invasion, American fossil fuel industry groups argued that the U.S. should boost domestic production given Russia’s grip on global oil and gas markets.
In November 2021, the PHMSA issued a notice that it would begin consideration of the rule opposed by Landry and his fellow attorneys general Monday. The Trump administration’s rule allowing firms to send natural gas on railways went into effect in August 2020.
Environmental groups, which have also opposed pipeline projects, argued rail transport of natural gas was too dangerous.
“The Trump administration’s reckless LNG rule risks explosions and fires in populated areas. We’ll fight to protect our communities from this deadly threat,” Emily Jeffers, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement in July 2020. “The fossil fuel industry is desperate to cover its bad bet on fracking by trying to easily move more LNG. Our climate and communities will pay a terrible price if we let these explosive trains roll through our cities and towns.”
Meanwhile, top Biden administration energy regulators altered federal policy on approving natural gas pipelines on Feb. 17, adding new climate roadblocks to such projects.