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Sen. Casey to OMB: Wrap up review of USDOT's tank-car rule ASAP

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) has called on the the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to quickly review the U.S. Department of Transportation's (USDOT) proposed tank-car safety rule in light of recent derailments involving crude oil-carrying tank cars.

The OMB and USDOT need to expedite the new rule to ensure new and stronger tank cars are used on rails and resources are increased for first responders, Casey wrote in a letter sent to OMB Director Shaun Donovan yesterday. The USDOT earlier this year sent a proposal it has been working on for more than a year to the OMB, which stated it might need until May to finalize the rule and make it public, the senator said.

Following last week’s CSX Transportation derailment in West Virginia and other recent rail accidents, the review of the USDOT's draft proposal on DOT-111 tanks cars and other safety recommendations needs to be completed as soon as possible, Casey wrote.

"It is crucial that we take appropriate action to protect our communities and prevent events like [the CSX derailment] from ever occurring again," he wrote. "Crude oil shipments by rail have increased drastically over the past several years, largely due to the rise of oil production in North Dakota. While we know the increase of crude oil has catalyzed growth in rail shipments, it is important that we make sure the appropriate measures are taken to ensure safety and that railroads are properly communicating with first responders."

Although the new safety requirements proposed by the USDOT are a step in the right direction, even more must be done to protect vulnerable communities and first responders from devastating crude-by-rail accidents, Casey believes.

"It's important for residents to have the peace of mind in knowing that the necessary actions are being taken to improve safety on our nation’s railways," he said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/27/2015