05.26.15

Senator Baldwin Joined by First Responders and Concerned Citizens in La Crosse to Call for Action on Dangerous Oil Trains

Baldwin highlights Crude-By-Rail Safety Act to protect Wisconsin communities & increase rail safety

LA CROSSE, WI – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin today was joined by local first responders and concerned citizens to highlight the dangers facing La Crosse and surrounding communities as volatile oil train traffic increases and call for immediate action to increase rail safety in Wisconsin. 

Senator Baldwin’s Crude-By-Rail Safety Act would set new standards for crude volatility, take unsafe tank cars off the tracks, and increase fines for violations. In addition, the legislation would authorize funding for first responder training, equipment and emergency preparedness and require comprehensive oil spill response plans for trains carrying oil, petroleum and other hazardous products.

“The danger facing Wisconsin residents living near rail lanes has materialized quickly. Just a few years ago, an oil train in our state was a rare sight. Today, more than 40 oil trains a week pass through Wisconsin,” said Senator Baldwin. “As more and more volatile crude oil moves through Wisconsin by rail, it is critical that appropriate safety measures are in place to reduce the risk of deadly accidents and that our emergency personnel have the training and resources to respond in case of tragedy.”

“Thank you to Senator Baldwin for her efforts at the federal level on these volatile oil trains. The transport of hazardous materials is a community issue that must be dealt with on many levels, such as legislation and grants to provide immediate relief to areas along oil train routes. The public has questions and they deserve answers,” said Greg Cleveland, City of La Crosse Fire Chief.

“We agree with Senator Baldwin that we cannot wait for another  accident to occur before taking action and we want Congress to immediately pass the Crude-By-Rail Safety Act. Putting people, our water, and our towns at risk with oil in unsafe trains is simply wrong. Further oil train disasters will be inevitable unless we step up and pass this legislation now,” said Maureen Freedland, a concerned citizen living near tracks that carry crude oil and a leader of the local advocacy group, Citizens Acting for Rail Safety (CARS).

Burlington Northern [Santa Fe Railway Co.] (BNSF) hauls 29 to 39 trains of crude oil a week along the Mississippi River and through La Crosse, according to documents filed with Wisconsin Emergency Management. BNSF has also successfully applied for a permit to expand its single line of track in the La Crosse River Marsh.

More information on Senator Baldwin’s efforts on Wisconsin rail safety here.