Oil industry sues U.S. over train safety rules

Repost from The Fresno Bee

Oil industry sues government over train safety rules

By Curtis Tate, McClatchy Washington Bureau, May 12, 2015

The oil industry went to court Monday over the Obama administration’s new oil train safety rules, challenging the timeline for refitting tens of thousands of tank cars and the requirement for enhanced braking systems on the cars.

In its petition for review, filed Monday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the American Petroleum Institute called the provisions, unveiled May 1 by the U.S. Department of Transportation, “arbitrary, capricious, (and) an abuse of discretion.”

The industry group asked the court to set aside the provisions. It did not challenge the department’s new standard for newly constructed tank cars carrying crude oil, ethanol and other flammable liquids.

The lawsuit names Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Tim Butters, acting chief of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the agency tasked with enforcing the rules.

In public statements and filings, the oil industry hinted that it would take legal action against the department’s new rules. It had said that the department’s proposed timeline for retrofitting the large fleet of DOT-111 tank cars wasn’t realistic. It also said that the benefits of installing electronic brakes on the tank cars didn’t justify the cost.

The rail industry’s principal trade group, the Association of American Railroads, also opposed the braking requirement, though it was more supportive of the retrofit timeline.

When asked about a potential legal challenge to its rules, Foxx said he expected that the courts would uphold the department’s power to regulate rail transportation.

“We believe strongly that our rule will stand up,” Foxx said on May 1.

This post has been updated to correct the federal court the suit was filed in.