In the wake of several recent rail disasters, lawmakers in Wisconsin and Minnesota are calling for new measures to improve oil train safety.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Ron Kind on Monday sent a letter urging President Barack Obama to impose new rules governing trains hauling volatile crude oil, like one that exploded after derailing near Galena, Ill.

The Department of Transportation has proposed new rules, including new tank car standards, better classification for liquid petroleum products, route risk assessment planning for railroads and reduced speed limits for oil trains.

But the White House did not act by the Jan. 15 statutory deadline to release final rules. Kind and Baldwin asked the president to issue the final rules — with additional safety measures.

“It is time for you to take action,” the Wisconsin Democrats wrote in their letter to Obama. “We believe that recent accidents make clear the need for rules stronger than those originally proposed.”

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They requested rules that would require shippers to stabilize oil — by taking out explosive gases like propane and butane — before it is transported as well as stricter safety standards for the tank cars that haul it.

Two recent derailments — in Galena and in West Virginia — involved cars built to the new safety standards proposed by the DOT.

Kind and Baldwin also called for lower speed limits and enhanced braking on trains carrying flammable materials and for increased transparency about the shipment of oil.

In Minnesota, two state lawmakers plan to unveil an oil train safety initiative Tuesday.

House Deputy Minority Leader Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, and Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, are proposing rail crossing enhancements along with a plan to make railroads pay for public safety improvements.

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(4) comments


Current lack of enforcement ignores growing threats of Bakken oil
explosions so extensive and toxic, fire chiefs have testified that
“even if we had an infinite amount of foam,” the fires and toxic
emissions would continue until all fuel had been exhausted, killing
people and destroying wide swaths of land and riverbanks as they
burned. Railroads are making secret decisions and hiding documents to
such an extent, the federal Department of Transportation says it’s
“impossible to know” to what extent railroads have prioritized or
ignored safety in choosing routes. Railroads have also lobbied against
federal regulatory efforts aimed at retrofitting tank cars for greater
safety. Congress and the White House, Homeland Security and the FRA
need to address the danger of Bakken oil explosions before disaster strikes.

That's why I signed a petition to Joseph C. Szabo, Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration, which says:

"It’s time the Federal Railroad Administration enforces existing law
requiring regulation to preserve health and safety in communities
adjacent to railroad traffic, particularly in metropolitan areas.

Will you sign the petition too? Click here to add your name:



Old Bowhunter

It wouldn't surprise me if we were to find out that ecoterrorists are sabotaging the tracks to stop the oil trains. These people will stop at nothing to impose their will on the rest of us!


Ecoterrorists? Like Tim McVeigh?


Re: "Kind and Baldwin also called for lower speed limits and enhanced braking on trains carrying flammable materials and for increased transparency about the shipment of oil."

...should consult trained scientists and engineers also to get the speeds right. Fifteen miles per hour is probably the appropriate speed for bomb trains in cities. Five derailments in the news over the past five weeks should tell you that the railroads are stumped by this critical safety problem. BNSF, in particular, seems confused about just what to do. Their main focus is public relations, not the critical engineering questions that involve safety.

Incendie à Lac-Mégantic


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