Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Compiled by JHMT StaffMay 18, 2017

As reported in HazMat Alert 2017-02 on January 17, 2017, on January 18, 2017, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) in the Federal Register titled Hazardous Materials: Volatility of Unrefined Petroleum Products and Class 3 Materials [Docket No. PHMSA-2016-0077 (HM-251D)]. On March 20, PHMSA extended the comment period to May 19, 2017, as reported in HazMat Alert 2017-17.

In ANPRM HM-251D, PHMSA is considering revising the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) to establish vapor pressure limits for unrefined petroleum-based products and potentially all Class 3 flammable liquid hazardous materials that would apply during the transportation of the products or materials by any mode. PHMSA is currently assessing the merits of a petition for rulemaking submitted by the Attorney General of the State of New York regarding vapor pressure standards for the transportation of crude oil. The petition requests that PHMSA implement a Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) limit less than 9.0 pounds per square inch (psi) for crude oil transported by rail.

ANPRM HM-251D has received push-back both from industry and within the US government. On March 10, House Representative Kevin Cramer sent a letter to US DOT Secretary Elaine Chao, signed by an additional 23 Members of Congress. This letter echoes sentiments from industry in requesting the withdrawal of ANPRM HM-251D until the completion of the ongoing Crude Oil Characteristics Research Sampling, Analysis, and Experiment Plan (Sandia Study).

On May 16, Howard McMillan, Acting Deputy Administrator at PHMSA, responded in a letter addressed to Congressman Cramer. In that letter, PHMSA's position is stated as:

  • ANPRM HM-251D does not propose new regulatory text and will not be withdrawn;
  • No plans to issue a NPRM or Final Rule prior to completion of the Sandia Study;
  • Comments and responses to the ANPRM are still being accepted.

To read Mr. Cramer's letter, click here (PDF); to read Mr. McMillan's response, click here (PDF). To read ANPRM HM-251D in the Federal Register, click here; to submit comments on the ANPRM, use the Federal eRulemaking Portal.

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