Methane gas “bomb trains” are a disaster waiting to happen

May 17, 2023


Gas Leaks


“Natural” gas is explosive enough on its own. Now the gas industry wants to put it in highly pressurized tanks, load it onto train cars and send it barrelling through America’s rail communities at high speeds.

For years, shipping liquefied gas by rail through densely populated areas was considered too dangerous. But in 2020, the Trump Administration passed a rule making the practice much easier, paving the way for projects like New Fortress Energy’s proposed methane gas export facility in Gibbstown, New Jersey. 


If built, the facility would mean two 100-car trains of explosive methane gas traveling every day from fracking fields in Pennsylvania to the coast of New Jersey, through populated areas like Philadelphia. The gas would then be sold internationally, increasing fossil fuel dependence and crowding out clean electricity worldwide. 

Community advocates recently scored a major victory in their fight against the project when a federal agency denied a special permit to transport gas to the facility. But the project — and other proposals nationwide to transport liquified gas by rail — could still go forward unless the Biden Administration updates its regulations to permanently forbid the dangerous practice. 

The recent toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, was a jarring reminder of the dangers of transporting explosive petrochemicals. Adding more trains full of highly flammable fossil fuels to the aging railway system is an obvious recipe for disaster.

Just one rail car full of liquified gas contains enough explosive force to level an entire city. 22 rail cars contain the equivalent of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II. The gas industry is proposing multiple trains that are each more than 100 cars long — containing the destructive capacity of four nuclear bombs.

While the Biden Administration took the important step of suspending the Trump Administration’s industry-friendly LNG-by-rail rule, it has yet to propose a replacement regulation. This uncertainty allows the gas industry to take advantage and push through dangerous proposals like the Gibbstown, New Jersey, project. If this project is successful, it could be the first of many gas export terminals along the Eastern seaboard, and more explosive trains traveling through the country.

Sign this petition to tell Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and President Joe Biden that methane gas bomb trains have no place on America’s rail system! It’s time to protect our communities, fight the climate crisis, and prevent more explosive trains from criss-crossing the country.


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