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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Feds seek input on crude-oil volatility through proposed rulemaking

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx
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The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) last week issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) that seeks additional information from industry, the public and state and local governments on the safety of crude oil transportation by rail.

The notice seeks input on a range of questions associated with establishing a vapor pressure threshold for crude oil in transportation, U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) officials said in a press release.

"Improving crude oil transportation safety by rail and other modes is a top priority for the Department of Transportation and this ANPRM is an important first step in that undertaking," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

The USDOT has taken more than 30 actions over the past two years to improve crude-by-rail safety, including issuing a rulemaking package in May 2015 to improve tank car durability, braking and the safe transportation of energy products. The department has issued many safety advisories and emergency orders.

"The American energy landscape is constantly evolving and we need to understand the full scope of safety risks involved with moving energy products in new ways," said PHMSA Administrator Marie Therese Dominguez.

The USDOT also is continuing work with the U.S. Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories on a study of the characteristics of crude oil that comes from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota. USDOT officials will use the study to determine the best sampling and testing methods for this type of crude, and to better understand how vapor pressure impacts transportation safety, department officials said.

The long term findings of the study will continue to inform PHMSA's rulemaking considerations.

The ANPRM comment period will last for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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