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The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday approved the RESPONSE Act, a bill to enhance emergency responder training for incidents involving rail transportation of hazardous materials.The bill, S. 546, was introduced by U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and passed in the Senate earlier this year. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved the bill with an amendment. The measure now goes back to the Senate for further consideration, according to a press release issued by the T&I committee.The bill calls for improving access to training for emergency responders, identifying challenges to obtaining appropriate training, modernizing training course content and identifying strategies to integrate data regarding the flow of hazardous materials by rail.The act also establishes a temporary subcommittee under the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) National Advisory Council to make recommendations for the training.The subcommittee's membership will represent the Federal Railroad Administration, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, FEMA and other government agencies."Rail safety is critical to the transport of goods and services through our country," said U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), chairman of the Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee. "I believe the RESPONSE Act will succeed in improving the safety of our nation's rail network."RESPONSE stands for Railroad Emergency Services Preparedness, Operational Needs, and Safety Evaluation.
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