[Editor: Significant quote: “In addition to describing oil train movements, the CSX notice to Virginia officials named contacts within the Jacksonville, Fla., company who oversee hazardous materials shipments; published a number for its emergency call center; and furnished nine pages of general and technical information about crude oil’s makeup, chemical properties, handling, dangers and mitigation measures in the event of a spill…. A red placard bearing the number 1267 is plastered on the side of every oil tanker car for easy identification.” – RS]
CSX’s oil shipping information publicized by government
The disclosure of routes and frequency of oil trains through Virginia was first mandated by the Department of Trasnsportation
By Jeff Sturgeon | The Roanoke Times | June 20, 2014
Between two and five CSX tanker trains loaded with 1 million gallons or more of flammable crude oil cross Virginia’s midsection weekly, taking a west-to-east route to a Yorktown refinery, state records show.
No railroad has previously revealed its oil shipping volumes and routes in the state. But the U.S. Department of Transportation last month told the nation’s railroads that ship flammable Bakken crude oil to notify states of oil-filled trains moving within their borders as a safety precaution, effective this month.
The first notice, received by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management about June 4, was made public Friday in response to a public records request.
The information is supposed to empower local emergency responders to better respond to a future train crash like the derailment that caught fire in Lynchburg almost eight weeks ago.
In disclosing its oil-hauling practices, CSX mapped the route along which it carries oil. The trains, which contain domestically pumped crude oil, appear to enter the state from West Virginia in Alleghany County, pass through or near Covington, and roll east to the Yorktown area, the site of an oil distribution terminal.
The trains traverse 20 counties.
Virginia officials are passing the information to local emergency responders in counties where oil trains pass. Quarterly updates will be shared as well, VDEM said.
The state’s emergency response agency plans to ask CSX to help develop a procedure by which a community holding a special event could ask CSX to modify its train schedules and not ship crude through that community during the event.
A high number of Bakken crude-filled trains in North America have crashed in recent years, leading to enactment of enhanced safety measures. The federal transportation agency issued an emergency order May 7 that directed the nation’s railroads to notify states about all oil trains carrying 1 million gallons or more of crude oil.
A train carrying 1 million gallons of oil would typically be comprised of about 35 tanker cars.
Norfolk Southern Corp. has notified the state it does operate such trains in Virginia.
Just a week before the new rule, a CSX oil train derailed, released oil and caught fire on the bank of the James River in Lynchburg. That train, which came from Chicago, was carrying 3 million gallons of crude oil on its way to Yorktown, VDEM said.
CSX continues to use the route through Lynchburg.
CSX officials asked Virginia officials to not make public the notification. But VDEM released it, saying the same information was available from other public sources.
In addition to describing oil train movements, the CSX notice to Virginia officials named contacts within the Jacksonville, Fla., company who oversee hazardous materials shipments; published a number for its emergency call center; and furnished nine pages of general and technical information about crude oil’s makeup, chemical properties, handling, dangers and mitigation measures in the event of a spill.
A red placard bearing the number 1267 is plastered on the side of every oil tanker car for easy identification.
Repost from DESMOGBLOG [Editor: The influential White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is reviewing the newly-proposed oil-by-rail safety regulations rolled out by the DOT and PHMSA. Significant quote: “A DeSmogBlog review of OIRA meeting logs confirms that in recent weeks, OIRA has held at least ten meetings with officials from both industries on oil-by-rail regulations. On the flip side, it held no meetings with public interest groups.” See also important statements by BNSF and the DOT on the need for an entirely new tank car design near the end of this article. – RS]
Meeting Logs: Obama White House Quietly Coddling Big Oil on “Bomb Trains” Regulations
During his presentation at NYU, Shelanski spoke at length about how OIRA must use “cost-benefit analysis” with regards to regulations, stating, “Cost-benefit analysis is an essential tool for regulatory policy.”
But during his confirmation hearings, Shelanski made sure to state his position on how cost-benefit analysis should be used in practice. Shelanski let corporate interests know he was well aware of their position on the cost of regulations and what they stood to lose from stringent regulations.
With the “cost-benefit analysis” regarding environmental and safety issues for oil-by-rail in OIRA’s hands, it appears both the oil and rail industries will have their voices heard loudly and clearly by the White House.
A DeSmogBlog review of OIRA meeting logs confirms that in recent weeks, OIRA has held at least ten meetings with officials from both industries on oil-by-rail regulations. On the flip side, it held no meetings with public interest groups.
Attendees of that meeting included Misty McGowen, Director of Federal Relations for API and Michael Yoham, Manager Rail Transportation Services for Chevron.
This API-Chevron White House visit parallels the one they made together when OIRA mulled over new rules on sulfur in gasoline. In 2012, a group led by API president Jack Gerard went to the White House to discuss this issue with another of President Obama’s closest advisers, Valerie Jarrett.
This visit clearly paid dividends for the industry when the new regulations were delayed.
Akin to what is currently happening with the oil-by-rail regulations regarding Bakken shale oil and the DOT-111 tank cars, it was coordinated with a big public relations push trashing the regulations as unnecessary.
History, as they say, has repeated itself in the oil-by-rail sphere.
“I can tell you that I don’t have confidence in the DOT-111 [and] I’m unconvinced that the 1232 — which is the upgraded car — is the absolute solution,” said Foxx. “I think there’s going to have to be a new type of tank car established to keep this country as safe as possible.”
As his C2 Group biography explains, Cline has also passed through the revolving door, formerly working for both the White House and DOT.
“John served in the White House as a Special Assistant for Intergovernmental Affairs under President George H.W. Bush,” Cline’s bio states.
“Prior to his service in the White House, he was Director of the Office of Congressional Affairs for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)… John entered public service in 1989 upon his selection by President Bush as Associate Administrator for the Federal Transit Administration at DOT.”
Exactly what API, Chevron, ExxonMobil, BNSF and other powerful factions discussed in their meetings with OIRA remains unknown for now.
But one thing remains clear: the only side OIRA has listened to so far in official meetings is Big Oil and Big Rail.
This is consistent with the trend-lines unpacked in the Center for Progressive Reform’s study titled, “Behind Closed Doors at the White House,” a comprensive review of OIRA meeting logs between 2001-2011.
“Over the last decade, 65 percent of the 5,759 meeting participants who met with OIRA represented regulated industry interests — about five times the number of people appearing on behalf of public interest groups,” stated the report.
“[E]ven under this ostensibly transformative President [Obama]…industry visits outnumbered public interest visits by a ratio of almost four to one.”