Category Archives: Coal trains

California Attorney General Calls on Trump to Close Loophole that Exposes Communities to “Bomb Trains”

Press Release from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra
[Editor:  See also KQED California Report, “AG Becerra Wants Trump Administration to Make Crude-Carrying ‘Bomb Trains’ Safer”  Also, see the NRDC blog on this story.   And … sadly … see a similar story from December, 2015.  – RS]

Attorney General Becerra Calls on Trump to Close Loophole that Exposes Vulnerable California Communities to “Bomb Trains”

Thursday, May 25, 2017
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov
  • Without Action, California Could Be Exposed To Freight Trains Carrying Highly Flammable, Highly Explosive Crude Oil
  • San Bernardino-Riverside And San Luis Obispo Among Regions Bearing Greatest Potential Risks

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is urging the Trump Administration to immediately close a loophole to prevent highly flammable, highly explosive crude oil from being shipped by freight rail via so-called “bomb trains” through communities in California, including the highly populated San Bernardino-Riverside and San Luis Obispo regions. High hazard areas for derailments would exist along every freight rail route in California. Many of these areas are also adjacent to California’s most sensitive ecological areas.

“Millions of Californians live, work, and attend school within the vicinity of railroad train tracks,” said Attorney General Becerra. “A derailment or explosion in California could put countless lives at risk and cause major damage to our land and waterways. This risk is simply unacceptable. I urge the Trump Administration to act immediately.”

So-called “bomb trains” are responsible for several catastrophic rail accidents in recent years, including the 2013 explosion in Quebec that killed 47 people.

In comments submitted to federal regulators, Attorney General Becerra called for immediate action that would require all crude oil transported by rail in the U.S. achieve a vapor pressure of less than 9.0 pounds per square inch (psi). Vapor pressure is a key driver of the oil’s explosiveness and flammability. Attorney General Becerra joined attorneys general from Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New York and Washington in calling for this requirement.

The comments were filed in response to an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) issued by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Earlier this month, as part of his efforts to protect vulnerable California communities, Attorney General Becerra filed a lawsuit in federal court that seeks to protect state residents from dangerous pollution that results from coal mining. Coal mined on public lands is transported by train through California and exported from ports in Long Beach, Los Angeles, Richmond and Stockton — areas next to several vulnerable communities. The transport of coal in open-top rail cars, as well as its storage and handling at export terminals, emits dangerous pollution. These emissions can result in a wide variety of serious health problems, including asthma, bronchitis, cardio-vascular diseases and cancer.

# # #

Please share!

Spokane City Council Nixes Proposed Oil And Coal Train Ballot Measure

Repost from Oregon Public Broadcasting
[Editor: Background: City proposes fining railroad.  Also, BNSF, Union Pacific lawsuit. – RS]

Spokane City Council Nixes Proposed Oil And Coal Train Ballot Measure

By Emily Schwing, Northwest News Network | Aug. 16, 2016 4:45 p.m., updated 6:56 p.m.
 In June, a train carrying crude oil from North Dakota derailed in the Columbia River Gorge near Mosier, Oregon.
In June, a train carrying crude oil from North Dakota derailed in the Columbia River Gorge near Mosier, Oregon. Northwest News Network, Emily Schwing

A measure that was added to the November ballot less than a month ago would have imposed fines on rail cars transporting fossil fuels through the heart of Spokane. On Monday night, the city council opted to withdraw it.

Council President Ben Stuckart said weeks of further review raised questions about whether the measure he co-sponsored could stand, were it to face a legal challenge.

“I don’t think that’s a good use of the citizen’s dollars,” he said.

In the weeks since the measure originally passed, Stuckart said a conversation about how to more safely transport fossil fuels has become a region-wide.

“A couple other cities have contacted us and they’ve suggested that we form a regional group here in Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington to try to work through these issues and see how we can affect state and national policy,” Stuckart said.

The measure itself was prompted by a number of accidents involving oil trains since 2012. In June, a train carrying crude oil from North Dakota derailed in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge.

On a near-daily basis, oil trains pass through the heart of Spokane past two major hospitals, a handful of schools and across an aquifer that serves nearly half a million people.

Please share!

BNSF ad campaign: fining oil train companies illegal, won’t solve future problems

Repost from FoxSpokane.com

BNSF says fining oil train companies won’t solve future problems

By Andrea Olson, August 8, 2016 10:28 pm

There’s a new push from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Company to derail the Spokane city council’s proposal to fine train companies for bringing oil or coal trains through the city.

You may have seen the ads from BNSF on Facebook or in the paper showing the company’s petition to block the plan. BNSF just started the campaign last week and they already have hundreds of signatures.

BNSF’s Courtney Wallace says the proposal is illegal and won’t solve future problems.

City council members say they’ve gotten a wave of emails from the petition. Council President Ben Stuckart says if BNSF really thinks the proposal is illegal, the company should challenge it to keep it off the ballot.

Please share!