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Biden administration to take 'hard look' at LNG-by-rail rule, Buttigieg says

Pete Buttigieg, nominated to head the U.S. Transportation Department, signaled that the Biden administration would consider rescinding a recently completed rule allowing LNG transportation by rail.

The final rule, issued June 19, laid out requirements for LNG transport by rail and allowed broad authorization for train shipments. The Transportation Department's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, or PHMSA, undertook the rulemaking to fulfill former President Donald Trump's executive orders aimed at promoting energy infrastructure development.

The LNG-by-rail rule is among a batch of Trump-era energy regulations the Biden administration is expected to review.

Asked about his views on the rule during his Jan. 21 Senate confirmation hearing, Buttigieg said it was something he wanted to take a closer look at if confirmed. He said it would be important to take into account safety considerations.

Pressed by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on whether he would consider repealing the rule and halting transportation of LNG by rail, Buttigieg responded, "The best, honest answer I can give you now is that I'll be taking a hard look at it."

Offering a view into his position on natural gas, Buttigieg noted that South Bend, Ind., converted some of the city's municipal fleet to natural gas-powered vehicles during his tenure as mayor. Buttigieg elaborated on his views in response to Cruz's comment that the transition from coal to gas for power generation has driven U.S. greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

"I do recognize that natural gas, certainly for climate purposes, is not the same thing as coal," he said. "It's not the same as coal, but of course it's not the same as hydroelectric power, and we need to be balancing all of these considerations as we go forward."

Buttigieg also committed to ensuring PHMSA is adequately staffed. The latest PHMSA reauthorization act requires the transportation secretary to present to Congress a comprehensive workforce plan for the administration.