Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, today commended the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for releasing draft rules addressing the safe transport of crude oil by rail, but said there is more work to do to make sure communities are safe. He urged Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to continue prioritizing this issue to finalize the rules by the end of the year.
DOT's rules announced today cover standards for tank cars carrying crude and other hazardous materials, a classification and testing program for oil and ethanol, and new operational requirements such as speed limits for these trains.
Larsen led other members of the Washington state Congressional delegation in asking for quick administrative action on tank car standards in a May letter.
"New rules for transporting crude oil by rail are an important step toward making sure communities near rail lines that carry crude oil and other hazardous materials are safe. But now we've got to translate rules on paper into safety on the rails.
"Getting the most dangerous tank cars off the rails is important, so I welcome DOT's decision to require the phase out or retrofit of DOT-111 tank cars. The rule allows DOT-111 tank cars to be repurposed to carry less flammable materials.
"I will continue working with my colleagues on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and leadership at DOT to understand some of the proposed rules, including which of the three proposed tank car options proposed will improve safety in the most effective and timely way.
"I also have questions for DOT about whether the one million gallon threshold set for notifying states about oil trains coming through their communities is the right level. And I want to learn more about the impact speed limits will have on traffic in Northwest Washington.
"I urge interested citizens and stakeholders to take a look at the rules and participate in the 60-day public comment period. Public input will help make the rules stronger. Following public comment, I hope Secretary Foxx will continue to move quickly to finalize rules by the end of the year so communities are safer and shippers have more certainty about the way they need to move their products," Larsen said.