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Public Statements

Federal Railroad Safety Improvement Act of 2007

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


FEDERAL RAILROAD SAFETY IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - October 17, 2007)

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Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, this amendment will exclude solid waste rail transfer facilities from the exclusive jurisdiction of the Surface Transportation Board and provide that laws outlining the STB's jurisdiction would not preempt the authority of State and local governments to regulate such facilities.

In New Jersey, and all over the country, certain waste handlers and railroad companies have tried to exploit a supposed loophole in Federal law in order to set up unregulated waste transfer facilities.

Under the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995, the STB has exclusive jurisdiction over transportation by rail carriers and the ability to grant Federal preemption over other laws at any level, local, State or Federal, that might impede such transportation.

But Congress intended such authority to extend only transportation by rail, not to the operation of facilities that are merely sited next to rail operations or have a business connection to a rail company.

Unfortunately, certain companies have exploited this loophole to build or plan waste transfer stations next to rail lines and avoid any regulation from the State or local authorities.

It's my hope that this amendment will take the STB out of the waste management business by ensuring that State and local governments have the right to regulate solid waste transfer stations.

We must ensure that solid waste facilities follow the rules and do not pollute pristine open space, and do all that we can to protect our environment from unregulated facilities.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. PALLONE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me just thank Mr. Murphy, who I should say is a cosponsor with me of this amendment.

I include for the Record the letter from the Commissioner of the Surface Transportation Board, Mr. Francis Mulvey, to Chairwoman Brown where he indicates his support of the amendment. He does, as the chairman of the full committee says, believe that there may be some issues that will have to be worked out as we move to conference or whatever on this. I would assure my colleague from Pennsylvania that we would try to do that. I urge support of the amendment.

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