New Federal Railroad Administration crude oil emergency orders issued


WASHINGTON – Area federal lawmaker are praising the Federal Railroad Administration’s announcement Friday of a number of emergency orders related to crude oil transported by rail, but two environmental organizations called the orders “toothless.”
Locally, freight trains with rail cars loaded with Bakken crude oil roll through the Hudson Valley on a daily basis.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D, NY17) and US Senator Charles Schumer both applauded the new regulations but said more must be done to ensure the safety of families and businesses along the routes of those trains that transport hazardous materials.
Among the orders is to limit the speed of high hazard flammable liquid trains to 40 miles an hour in high-threat urban areas.
“Upwards of 80 rail cars carrying crude oil pass through Rockland County each day,” said Lowey. “The Department of Transportation needs to expedite implementation of stricter safety regulations to prevent the next tragic accident and, as Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Committee, I will be laser-focused on enhancing safety measures to keep families safe.”
Schumer also said more must be done. “It is simply unacceptable that the Office of Management and Budget continues to delay issuing a final, tough rule on tank-car standards, and that there has been virtually no action addressing oil volatility.”
The environmental groups Riverkeeper and ForestEthics criticized the order for not setting a speed limit “at which is becoming the new industry minimum, 35 mph. It is yet another missed opportunity for the federal regulators to take action to protect people, property, and natural resources from catastrophic disasters,” the two groups stated.
A 40 mph speed limit through major metropolitan areas “does little to protect those areas,” their statement said. “The tank cars now carrying volatile crude are only rated to withstand puncture at speeds around 10-15 mph, and even enhanced tankers under consideration would only withstand punctures up to 20 mph, half of what the DOT is proposing for public safety.”

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