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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

House bill would regulate crude oil by rail


A second group of federal lawmakers has introduced legislation to regulate the transport of crude oil by rail.

U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) yesterday introduced the Crude-By-Rail Safety Act (H.R. 1804), which the congressman said would set new safety and security standards to address growing concerns that current standards fail to address the threat posed by transporting crude oil by rail.

"Rail cars transporting crude run through the heart of our communities, and as recent accidents have demonstrated, robust, comprehensive action is needed," Thompson said in a press release. "The bill introduced today puts safety measures in place that will help make sure communities are secure, railcars are as strong as possible, and first responders are prepared in the event of an emergency."

According to Thompson, the bill would:
• establish a maximum volatility standard for crude oil;
• prohibit the use of DOT-111 tank cars;
• require comprehensive oil spill response planning and studies;
• increase fines for violating volatility and hazmat transport standards;
• require disclosure of train movements through communities and emergency response plans; and
• require railroads to implement a confidential close-call reporting system.

Joining Thompson in introducing the bill were U.S. Reps. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.).

Last month, four U.S. Democratic senators introduced the Crude-By-Rail Safety Act of 2015, which would require the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to draft new regulations to mitigate the volatility of gases in crude oil shipped via tank car and immediately halt the use of older-model tank cars that have been shown to be at high risk for puncturing and catching fire in derailments.

The Senate bill was introduced by Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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