Maloney: Crude Oil Rail Regulations Critical for Safety, No Delays
Newburgh, NY – Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) urged the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to take local concerns into consideration and immediately release comprehensive rules for improving crude oil transport safety. During the public comment period, Rep. Maloney sent a letter to Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) Administrator Cynthia Quarterman urging DOT to move quickly on finalizing the proposed regulations mandating that the currently inadequate DOT-111 tank cards be discontinued or retrofit to meet new, heightened safety standards.
“Since 1992, we’ve known these tanker cars were highly hazardous, which is precisely why we need to immediately phase out these dangerous DOT-111 cars carrying highly explosive and dangerous crude. With billions of gallons of oil barreling down the Hudson, it’s an accident waiting to happen if we don’t act - the safety of our neighbors, environment and communities is far too important,” said Rep. Maloney. “Although railroads would now be required to notify state emergency responders, our local first responders and emergency personnel who would be first on the scene on the accident should also be notified of shipments happening in their backyard, and we must work quickly to develop comprehensive oil spill response planning requirements to give more guidance to our first responders.”
In May, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) sent a letter to President Obama and Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Burwell requesting the immediate release of these comprehensive rules for crude oil transport safety, recommended by the Department of Transportation. In July, Maloney commended DOT’s initial comprehensive proposal issued to immediately phase out the use of older DOT-111 tank cars, issue new standards for tanker cars carrying highly hazardous materials, reduce operating speeds, and require notification for first responders.
Both the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Association of American Railroads (AAR) have called on the DOT to phase-out or retrofit existing DOT-111 cars deemed inadequate. Out of 92,000 DOT-111 rail cars in use, 78,000 are unsafe and are prone to splitting during derailments. Currently, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and Federal Railroad Administration issued a Safety Advisory urging railroads to use the most protective type of rail tank cars to ship the oil and to avoid, when possible, using older model DOT-111 tanker cars.
As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Maloney has been working with the Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to examine the environmental and economic impact of shipments of crude on the Hudson River. In May, Rep. Maloney introduced an amendment to the defense reauthorization bill that would have required a study on the security implications of shipping crude oil by rail within a half mile of a military academy and also introduced the Rail Safety Enforcement Act, a comprehensive rail safety bill to make rail systems safer, portions of which were passed by the House of Representatives in June. In September, Rep. Maloney’s bipartisan legislation passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as part of the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act (PRRIA) that would help commuter rail lines like Metro-North fund and implement positive train control (PTC) systems.