Groups Question Industry Influence on Oil Train Safety Rules, submit FOI request

Press Release from ForestEthics

Groups Question Industry Influence on Oil Train Safety Rules

Freedom of Information Requests Target Five Federal Agencies, Nearly 100 Lobbyists

By Eddie Scher, Jan 15, 2015

Today four public interest groups requested records exchanged between five US government agencies and nearly 100 oil and rail industry representatives on new oil train safety standards. The Department of Transportation announced yesterday that the agency would miss the January 15 deadline set by Congress and issue final rules by May 12, 2015.

“New oil train safety standards are decades late: the National Transportation Safety Board first called antiquated DOT-111 tank cars unsafe for hauling crude oil in 1991,” says Ross Hammond, ForestEthics US campaigns director. “But the administration seems to have trouble asking the oil and rail industry for common sense safety standards like speed limits, sharing information with firefighters, and a ban of the most dangerous cars.”

The Freedom of Information Act requests filed by ForestEthicsCommunities for a Better Environment, Ezra Prentice Homes Tenants Association (Albany, NY), and Citizens Acting or Rail Safety (La Crosse, WI) name 97 individual lobbyists from the American Petroleum Institute, Association of American Railroads and specific oil and rail companies, including Chevron, Tesoro, and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF). Among the lobbyists named are six former members of Congress: Trent Lott, Vin Weber, John Breaux, Steve LaTourette, Max Sandlin and Bill Lipinski.

“The public has the right to know how an army of lobbyists is influencing the Department of Transportation,” says Ross Hammond, ForestEthics US campaigns director. “Oil trains carrying millions of gallons of toxic, explosive crude oil threaten the 25 million Americans who live in the blast zone. DOT should listen their own safety experts and quickly finalize strong new standards that take DOT-111s off the tracks, slow these trains down, prepare first responders and protect families.”

Government agencies and officials covered by this FOIA request are US Department of Transportation, National Transportation Safety Board, Surface Transportation Board, Federal Railroad Administration, and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).


ForestEthics demands that corporations and government protect community health, the climate, and our wild places. We’ve secured the protection of 65 million acres of wilderness by pushing major companies to shift hundreds of millions of dollars to responsible purchasing.