WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced its Final Rule on High Hazard Flammable Trains (HHFT) Rulemaking (also known as the “Crude by Rail Rule”):
“Today the Department of Transportation and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration released much-anticipated final rules to update safety standards governing the transportation of crude oil by rail. While I am glad that the Administration is finally taking steps to protect our communities, I have serious concerns with these rules. Inadequate tank cars will be allowed to continue carrying volatile crude oil until 2020 and in some cases—indefinitely. While I understand concerns about allowing time for industry to adjust to new standards, I believe that tank cars without thermal protection are inappropriate for shipping crude oil, period. Congress should pass legislation that speeds up the phase out of these dangerous cars and I am hopeful that my Republican colleagues will join our effort to do so as we work to keep Wisconsin communities safe.”
Recently, Senator Baldwin joined Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to introduce legislation that would set strong new safety standards for trains hauling volatile crude oil, to better protect American communities along the tracks. The Crude-By-Rail Safety Act of 2015 requires the 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.
In March, Senator Baldwin sent a letter to President Obama urging the Administration to issue final guidance to address oil train safety. The letter also included specific proposals to strengthen the recommended rules after recent accidents, including one on March 5th in neighboring Galena, Illinois, have demonstrated the need for improvements.
In January, Senator Baldwin urged DOT and PHMSA to finalize a rule to increase oil tank car safety after the agencies missed their deadline. The agencies were required by law to have completed the rule by January 15, 2015. Senator Baldwin provided public comments on the proposed rule in a letter to DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx and PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman in 2014.
More information on Senator Baldwin’s efforts on Wisconsin rail safety here.