Transporting Crude Oil and Liquid Hydrocarbons by Rail and Truck: A Primer on the Regulatory Issues


On Dec. 4, I was a featured speaker at the 3rd Midstream Oil and Gas Law Conference held in Houston, Texas. My experience includes representing motor carriers before federal and state regulatory agencies, and representing motor carriers and shippers in transactional, international, and trade matters, as well as cargo loss & damage controversies, so I presented: "Transporting Crude Oil and Liquid Hydrocarbons by Rail and Truck: A Primer on the Regulatory Issues."

In my presentation, I explained the transportation of crude oil and other liquid hydrocarbons by rail and truck is highly regulated - both as a result of the nature and risks presented in the transportation context, as well as due to the hazardous nature of the materials themselves. The hazardous materials regulations are numerous, lengthy and - in many cases - highly technical. The manner in which they are drafted and organized does not readily support quick analysis or the assurance that one has identified all applicable requirements. Further complicating matters is the number of federal agencies involved. The overlap in jurisdictions and responsibilities - as well as the differences in priorities of the various agencies - has resulted in independently promulgated regulations that in many cases, though consistent with each other, are not necessarily identical. Without an appreciation of that fact, additional requirements found in one or another regulatory compendium may be inadvertently overlooked.

And that's just at the federal level. I also mentioned that though state and Native American tribe provisions that differ from the federal hazardous materials and rail transportation provisions are largely preempted, there are some areas in which those governmental bodies' regulations may control.

I stressed the importance of regulatory compliance for shippers, freight intermediaries and others who offer crude oil and liquid hydrocarbons for transportation by rail and truck, and their appreciation of the additional obligations that such activities entail under the present regulatory structure. I also urged awareness of pending regulatory proposals aimed at further addressing the risks to the public presented in the context of such transportation.

To see my presentation, please click here. If you'd like a copy if my paper, please contact me at:

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