Federal agencies Legislation Rail

Oil-by-rail rule doesn’t go far enough, critics say

train tracks

Photo: iStock/Thinkstock

Washington – The Department of Transportation’s final rule on the safe transport of crude oil by rail needs stronger language and tighter deadlines, according to several senators whose states experience heavy rail traffic.

Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) were among those who criticized DOT’s final rule, which was announced May 1. The rule sets standards for new tank cars and establishes a schedule for retrofitting older DOT-111 tank cars. It also implements a new braking standard that will take effect in 2021 for some tank cars and 2023 for others.

“Allowing these outdated oil cars to continue rolling through our communities for another eight years is a reckless gamble that we can’t afford to make,” Schumer said in a press release. “There is no question that the new rules don’t go far enough.”

Cantwell echoed Schumer’s sentiments about the rule. “It does nothing to address explosive volatility, very little to reduce the threat of rail car punctures, and is too slow on the removal of the most dangerous cars,” Cantwell said in a press release. “It’s more of a status quo rule than the real safety changes needed to protect the public and first responders.”