PHMSA Withdraws Proposed Rulemaking on Vapor Pressure

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said in mid-May said it was withdrawing its January 2017 Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding vapor pressure for unrefined petroleum products and other flammable liquids.

The decision follows an extensive study conducted by Sandia National Laboratories and the review of public comments regarding the role of vapor pressure limits in the transportation of crude oil and other flammable liquids by rail. The Sandia study concluded that imposing vapor pressure limits would not reduce the risks of transporting crude oil and other flammable liquids by rail. In its decision to withdraw the ANPRM, PHMSA said it is no longer considering vapor pressure limits for the transport of crude oil by rail.

ILTA, in comments filed last August, asked PHMSA to do just that.

In a separate action, PHMSA found that a Washington State requirement limiting the RVP of crude oil transported by rail is preempted by federal law. PHMSA gave three reasons for its preemption decision: 1)  Washington vapor pressure requirement constitutes a scheme for classifying a hazardous material that is not substantively the same as the Hazardous Materials Regulations; 2) the vapor pressure requirement imposes requirements on the handling of a hazardous material that are not substantively the same as the requirements of the HMR; 3) PHMSA has determined that the vapor pressure requirement is an obstacle to accomplishing and carrying out the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act. Read PHMSA's withdrawal notice for more details.