Category Archives: Federal Rail Administration

Feds: Oil train details not security sensitive

Repost from Associated Press

Feds: Oil train details not security sensitive

By Matthew Brown  |  Jun. 18, 2014

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. transportation officials said Wednesday that details about volatile oil train shipments are not sensitive security information, after railroads sought to keep the material from the public following a string of fiery accidents.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has ordered railroads to give state officials specifics on oil-train routes and volumes so emergency responders can better prepare for accidents.

Railroads have convinced some states to sign agreements restricting the information’s release for business and security reasons.

But the Federal Railroad Administration determined the information is not sensitive information that must be withheld from the public to protect security, said Kevin Thompson, the agency’s associate administrator.

Thompson added that railroads could have appropriate claims that the information should be kept confidential for business reasons, but said states and railroads would have to work that out.

Montana officials said they intend to publicly release the oil-train information next week.

The move is mandated under the state’s open records law and will help protect public safety by raising community awareness, said Andrew Huff, chief legal counsel for Gov. Steve Bullock.

“Part of the whole reason the federal government ordered that this information be given to states is to protect the communities through which these trains roll,” Huff told The Associated Press. “If there’s not some federal pre-emption or specific regulation or statute that prevents release of this information, then under our records laws we have to release it.”

Washington state officials also have said the oil-train details should be made public under state law. Last week, they gave railroads 10 days to seek a court injunction challenging the release of the information.

An oil-train derailment and explosion in Quebec last July killed 47 people. Subsequent derailments and fires in Alabama, North Dakota, Virginia and New Brunswick have drawn criticism from lawmakers in Congress that transportation officials have not done enough to safeguard against further explosions.

In response to the accidents, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in last month’s order that railroads must provide the details on routing and oil-train volumes to states. The order covered trains hauling a million gallons of oil or more from the Bakken region of North Dakota, Montana and parts of Canada.

The Bakken’s light, sweet crude is more volatile than many other types of oil. It’s been involved in most of the major accidents as the crude-by-rail industry rapidly expanded during the past several years.

Some states have agreed to requests from BNSF Railway, CSX and Union Pacific to keep the information confidential after the railroads cited security concerns. Those include California, New Jersey, Virginia, Minnesota and Colorado.

Officials in New York, North Dakota and Wisconsin said they still were weighing whether restrictions on the information would violate state open-records laws.

State officials who questioned the confidentiality agreements sought by the railroads have said the notifications about oil trains were not specific enough to pose a security risk.

BNSF — the main carrier of crude oil in many western states — was notified late Tuesday of Montana’s intentions. A representative of the Texas-based company had said in a June 13 letter that BNSF would consider legal action if Montana moved to release the details on oil shipments.

“We must be cognizant that there is a real potential for the criminal misuse of this data in a way that could cause harm to your community or other communities along the rail route,” wrote Patrick Brady, BNSF’s director of hazardous materials, in a letter to a senior official at the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

Company spokesman Matt Jones said Wednesday that at this time BNSF has no plans to ask a court to intervene.

While it’s important for emergency planners to have the information, Jones added, BNSF will “continue to urge discretion in the wider distribution of specific details.”

A second railroad, Montana Rail Link, submitted notifications earlier this month revealing that its tracks were carrying three oil trains a week along a route from Huntley, Montana, to Sandpoint, Idaho. The railroad said the trains pass through as many as 12 counties across southern and western Montana and through Bonner County in Idaho, according to copies of the documents obtained by the AP.

U.S. crude oil shipments by rail topped a record 110,000 carloads in the first quarter of 2014. That was the highest volume ever moved by rail, spurred by the booming production of shale oil from the Northern Plains and other parts of the country, according to the Association of American Railroads.

Iowans worry: unsafe tank cars, hazardous loads, unsafe speeds

Repost from KCRG ABC9, Eastern Iowa

Outdated Rail Cars Carry Dangerous Loads Through Iowa

By Erin Jordan, The Gazette

FAIRFAX, Iowa — Will Forester spends his days fixing boats. But he thinks about trains.

Every 10 to 20 minutes, he hears the horn of a Union Pacific train as it approaches Forester Marine in downtown Fairfax. The freight trains hauling coal hoppers, tank cars and flatbeds roar by his boat-repair shop, shaking the century-old former depot and making Forester’s ears ring.

“They go by at about 70 miles per hour,” Forester said. “It’s just pretty fast for a little town.”

Included on those trains are DOT-111s, tank cars used to carry ethanol, crude oil and other hazardous liquids across the country despite concerns about the cars’ risk of puncture and fire in a derailment.

Several high-profile train wrecks, including a fiery crash in Canada last summer that killed 47 people, have renewed scrutiny of the DOT-111s, regarded in Iowa and across the nation as the workhorse of the energy industry.

Although never intended for high-speed use, DOT-111s may be driven through some parts of Iowa at nearly four times their recommended speed.

The Canadian government has ordered all DOT-111 cars be upgraded within three years. So far, the U.S. Department of Transportation has issued only piecemeal restrictions and voluntary recommendations.

Outdated cars, hazardous loads

The next time you’re stopped for a train, look for black, tube-shaped tank cars. Those are likely DOT-111s.

“At any one time, you can see literally dozens and dozens of 111s going by,” said Tom Ulrich, operation officer for the Linn County Emergency Management Agency.

If a train derails, hazardous-materials teams are charged with preventing leaks that might cause fire, an explosion or a spill that could damage the environment or kill animals. But officials don’t always know the type or volume of hazardous materials moving through their jurisdictions.

A 2010 commodity study in Johnson County showed 443 million gallons of flammable liquids traveled the Iowa Interstate Railroad, which runs through Iowa City. Flammables included ethanol, petroleum products and paint.

Another 2.3 million gallons of corrosives — including hydrochloric acid, battery acid and potassium hydroxide — shipped via Iowa Interstate and Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railroad (CRANDIC) in 2010, the study showed.

Other hazardous materials moving by rail in Johnson County in 2010 included environmentally hazardous substances, anhydrous ammonia and pesticides.

Linn County almost certainly has higher volumes, Ulrich said. But officials won’t know until after a regional commodity study starting this summer.

Linn County will contribute $9,000 to the first phase of the study, which eventually will include Benton, Buchanan, Cedar, Clayton, Clinton, Delaware, Fayette, Jackson and Jones counties. The local emergency planning committee for the smaller counties already has received $18,000 in Homeland Security grants toward the project, committee chairman Mike Ryan said.

Most rail transport safe

Most hazardous materials are shipped via rail without incident, said Tom Simpson, president of the Railway Supply Institute, a trade group that acts on behalf of suppliers to North American railroads.

“Over 99 percent of hazardous shipments arrive safely,” he said. “DOT-111’s operate every day of the year safely. They have been built to the standards the DOT has in place.”

There are about 97,000 DOT-111s carrying flammable liquids across the country, Simpson said. More than 40 percent of the cars are carrying crude oil and another 30 percent are freighting ethanol.

“You can see the DOT-111s are an important part of our domestic energy-development service,” he said.

The rail car industry started making safer tank cars in 2011, but with a national uptick in crude production, the DOT-111s are critical to shipping oil from places such as North Dakota and Colorado to refineries in Texas and Louisiana.

Bakken crude a concern

The Bakken formation, which covers about 200,000 square miles in North Dakota, Montana and Canada, has been known to be a vast oil source since the 1950s. But hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has boomed in recent years.

Bakken crude has more flammable gasses and is more likely to explode, the federal government has warned.

Forty-seven people were killed July 6 when a runaway 74-car freight train derailed in Lac-Megantic, Quebec. The train, carrying Bakken crude in DOT-111 tank cars, started fire and several tank cars exploded, destroying more than 30 buildings.

The area was flooded with crude and other chemicals that are still being cleaned up today.

A train carrying crude nearly toppled a bridge in Philadelphia in January, and another crude oil train derailed and caught fire in downtown Lynchburg, Va., last month. That fire caused an evacuation of hundreds of people and spilled oil into the James River.

It’s hard to tell where Bakken oil is being shipped in Iowa.

Canadian Pacific, which describes itself as the “only rail carrier providing single line haul service between the Bakken and major crude oil markets in the Northeastern United States,” has an online map showing routes that appear to go from Mason City through Eastern Iowa towns that include New Hampton, Postville and Marquette.

A 2012 crude-by-rail map published by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration shows heavy Bakken transports along the Canadian Pacific line that runs on the Iowa side of the Mississippi River.

Officials from Canadian Pacific and Union Pacific would not confirm whether Bakken oil is being shipped on their railroads.

“For security reasons, we don’t provide specifics,” Canadian Press spokesman Ed Greenberg said.

Onna Houck, corporate counsel for Iowa Interstate Railroad, said the company does not ship Bakken oil on its 500 miles of track in Iowa.

Starting in June, railroads that ship 1 million gallons of more of Bakken crude on a single train must notify each state’s emergency response commission, according to a May 7 emergency order from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Ethanol shipped in DOT-111s

Ethanol also can be dangerous when it’s shipped in outdated tank cars.

An Oct. 7, 2011, trip on the Iowa Interstate Railroad ended in disaster when 26 cars jumped the tracks near Tiskilwa, Ill. Of 10 DOT-111s carrying ethanol, three erupted in massive fireballs causing officials to evacuate the town of 750 people, the National Transportation and Safety Board reported.

“The poor performance of DOT-111 general specification tank cars in derailments suggests that DOT-111 tank cars are inadequately designed to prevent punctures and breaches, and that catastrophic release of hazardous materials can be expected,” the NTSB said.

Iowa Interstate Railroad ships ethanol from plants with a combined capacity of more than 1 billion gallons, Houck said. Railroads can’t reject legal loads, even if the freight is hazardous material.

As the shippers own or lease the rail cars, railroads have little say over the use of DOT-111s.

ADM, which produces ethanol as part of its grain-processing operations in Cedar Rapids, declined to speak with The Gazette about its use of DOT-111s. Penford Products, which also has an ethanol plant, did not return calls seeking an interview.

Speed can influence derailments

It’s not just the materials inside a train but the speed that can increase risk.

Albert Ratner, a University of Iowa associate professor of mechanical engineering who studies fires during train derailments, said DOT-111s were designed to drive about 18 miles per hour. With less than half an inch of steel around the center, weak end caps and easily damaged valves, the DOT-111 doesn’t hold up well in a crash, he said.

“If you’re in areas where they’re going 40, 50 miles an hour, you’re really rolling the dice because if the car derails, the car’s not designed for that,” Ratner said.

Emergency manager Ulrich agreed.

“When they derail, even at low speeds, there’s the opportunity for the valving to shear off, top and bottom, and for the tank itself to be compromised,” he said.

The Union Pacific line through Fairfax has a speed limit of 70 miles per hour, with engineers reducing the speed to 50 mph only if there are 20 or more cars with hazardous materials, Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis said.

“In a lot of rural communities, faster is better because the crossings aren’t blocked for as long,” Davis said.

The speed limit on Iowa Interstate Railroad is 40 mph. Canadian Pacific’s tracks through Iowa vary from 10 to 40 mph.

Stopgaps and precautions

The rail car supply industry so far has built more than 17,000 upgraded tankers that include thicker steel, stronger end caps and more protection for top fittings, Simpson said. They will have 55,000 by the end of 2015.

But until the DOT-111s can be replaced, the industry is using stopgaps and precautions.

The UI’s Ratner has researched fuel additives that prevent mist, which is often what ignites in a train derailment. The additives can save lives but cost five to 10 cents per gallon, he said.

Canadian Pacific introduced a $325-per-car surcharge in March for all older tank cars as a way to encourage shippers to upgrade, Greenberg said.

Union Pacific tries to keep its tracks in top condition to prevent derailments, invests heavily in education for employees about hauling hazardous materials and works with emergency managers in every county, Davis said.

Still, accidents happen. A train on UP lines dumped 6,500 gallons of oil during a derailment May 9 near LaSalle, Colo.

“We have to work with our customers to help make the transportation of their products safer,” Davis said.

Debate: thickness of the steel walls of tank cars

Repost from International Business Times
[Editor: Important report, please read.  – RS]

Oil Industry And Railroads Shipping Shale Boom Riches Are Separated By Just An Eighth Of An Inch

By Meagan Clark  |  April 29 2014
Coal railcars Wyoming by Shutterstock Coal railcars in Wyoming  |

Energy companies and the firms that make the rail cars carrying the flow of crude oil and other products from America’s shale boom are separated by a mere 1/8 of an inch.

That’s the added thickness in the walls of the steel rail cars that the manufacturers say is needed to achieve safe standards. The oil and gas industry argues that the current 7/16 of an inch thickness is adequate.

The debate is important because the U.S. is currently hammering out guidelines that will eventually set the new national standards for transporting hazardous cargo by rail.

The standards for tank cars have made national headlines after several fiery derailments of trains carrying crude in the past year, some near homes.

After several congressional hearings,  the Department of Transportation (DOT) is expected to propose a new set of rules this week for White House review, including “options for enhancing tank car standards,” Anthony Foxx, transportation secretary, blogged for DOT on Thursday. Foxx was visiting Casselton, North Dakota, the site of an explosive train derailment and 400,000-gallon crude spill late last year that managed to not injure anyone.

The White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) will review the DOT’s proposal. The turnaround usually takes about three months, but could take longer since the regulation in dispute is controversial and costly. The public will have a chance to submit comments before the final rules are set.

“We look forward to working collaboratively with OIRA on the Administration’s proposal and initiating the formal comment process as soon as possible,” Foxx said in the blog post.

The current regulation DOT-111 has been the federal standard for oil-by-rail shipping for more than a decade, and nearly all parties involved in the trade agree it needs updating.  Some officials claim the crude from the Bakken Shale formation in Wyoming and North Dakota is more volatile and dangerous than other domestic crude oil.

Rail operators, oil producers and tank car manufacturers have argued without resolve for months on what the best dimensions would be to transport crude.

The American Petroleum Institute claims that the current a 7/16th inch-thick steel frame is adequate for crude shipments, while the Association of American Railroads, the rail industry’s lead representative, proposes a thicker 9/16th inch frame.

The thicker tank not only would cost the companies more to buy; it also holds less crude, which adds to shipping costs.

A 7/16th inch model called the CPC-1232 has been a voluntary industry standard since 2011, and factories have sold many of the tank cars in recent years to transport crude. AAR introduced the standard after several DOT-111 derailments, but now recommends phasing out or retrofitting the older models for a minimum 9/16th inch-thick tank.

AAR estimates its proposal would phase out or retrofit about 92,000 cars built since 2011 that meet the current standard. Retrofitting the whole existing fleet of current-standard cars carrying flammable liquids would be more than $3 billion, according to the rail group.

Once the rules are final, rail companies will have to decide whether to upgrade their existing fleet or wait for tanks to be built to the new standard.

North America’s oil boom has increased rail transport of crude from 9,500 carloads a year in 2008 to 400,000 carloads last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Association. The more oil riding the rails, the more likely spills and accidents are to occur. Only 0.0023 percent of hazardous material carloads spill or crash, according to the Association of American Railroads and the American Shortline and Regional Railroad Association. But that small percentage of accidents gets a lot of attention.

Cozy relationship between North Dakota’s oil industry and a chief federal inspector

Repost from In These Times

Official Tipped Off Hess Rail Yard About Oil-Carrier Inspection

Emails cast doubt on the integrity of a federal crackdown on unsafe shipping practices.
BY Cole Stangler  /  Web Only / Features » April 29, 2014
Oil containers wait at a train yard near Williston, North Dakota before transporting crude oil across North America. Shippers and carriers often mislabel their cargo, which leads to improper handling and potentially dangerous accidents. (Andrew Burton / Getty Images)

Emails obtained by In These Times show a cozy relationship between North Dakota’s oil industry and a chief federal inspector charged with monitoring the safety of shipping crude oil by rail. The emails cast serious doubts on the integrity of the federal government’s supposed crackdown on the industry’s shoddy shipping practices—a subject of growing concern in the midst of a largely unregulated, and in some cases, deadly, transport boom.

Last August, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Agency (PHMSA) and Federal Railroad Administration announced they were rolling out the “Bakken Blitz”—a crackdown on shippers and carriers that mislabel their cargo. Federal hazmat regulations require trains carrying oil to properly classify and identify their shipments with placards. These practices are supposed to ensure that oil is safely packaged before being shipped. They’re also aimed at informing railroad personnel and, in the event of a mishap, any emergency responders. Regulators introduced the Blitz just one month after the Lac Mégantic disaster, when a runaway freight train carrying oil exploded in the small Quebec town, killing 47 people. In that case, Canadian safety investigators found American shippers in North Dakota’s Bakken region had understated the volatility of the oil that ignited and destroyed much of Lac Mégantic’s downtown area. Improper classification caused the shipment to be transported in an improper package. Emergency responders, too, were caught by surprise at how quickly the fire spread and how long it burned.

As part of the Department of Transportation’s new enforcement effort, PHMSA officials show up unannounced at rail facilities to conduct classification inspections—at least that’s what an agency spokesperson told In These Times at first. An email obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request strongly suggests that Kipton Wills, Central Region Director of PHMSA’s Office of Hazardous Materials Enforcement, pre-arranged at least one of his agency’s visits to a Hess Corp. rail yard in Tioga, North Dakota, last October.

“We will accommodate your request to inspect trucks at the Tioga Rail Terminal,” Jody Schroeder, the rail terminal supervisor, wrote in an email to Wills dated October 3, 2013—five days before the inspection took place. “At your convenience please let me know your schedule for this event.”

Schroeder later confirmed that Wills reached out to him about the visit.

Earlier this month, PHMSA spokesperson Gordon Delcambre told In These Times that such inspections are impromptu. “They’re unannounced,” he said. “[Inspectors] figure out who they’re going to visit ahead of time, make plans, go to the area and then start knocking on doors.”

Indeed, this is normal procedure. The agency’s handbook notes “the policy of the PHMSA hazardous materials enforcement program is to conduct unannounced inspections.” Exceptions can include cases of “apparent imminent danger to enable the company to correct the danger,” instances where special preparations, records and equipment are necessary, and cases where “giving advance notice would enhance the probability of an effective and thorough inspection.”

Delcambre said he would follow up with PHMSA’s Central Region director Wills to confirm the crude-by-rail inspections were unannounced. “Our field hazmat inspector procedures have not changed with our Bakken region effort,” Delcambre wrote later that day in an email. “PHMSA inspectors still do ‘unannounced’ visits to hazmat shippers and offerors and have been taking crude oil samples as needed at the facilities they call on.”

But when asked to respond for this story, Delcambre qualified that answer.

“Because we were conducting inspections on Hess Property of other entities (highway carriers) and in order to do that safely, in some cases such as this one, prior open coordination for facility orientation and confirmation of appropriate personal protective equipment was needed,” he wrote in an email.

The inspection of the Hess facility, which also services other oil and gas companies like Marathon, did turn up “probable violations.” Out of 18 oil samples that PHMSA collected and tested at the Tioga plant, the labeling on 10 of them understated how flammable the cargo was. In each of those cases, Hess and Marathon misclassified Packing Group I oil as belonging to Packing Group II. Packing Group I is the highest risk designation, reserved for crude oil with an initial boiling point lower than 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s the most explosive kind of crude.

Months after the inspection took place, on February 3 of this year, PHMSA slapped Hess with a proposed $51,350 fine and Marathon Oil with a proposed $30,000 fine for the improper classification. Whiting Oil & Gas was hit with a proposed $12,000 fine for misclassifying Packing Group II oil as Packing Group III.

But Martin MacKerel, an environmental activist with the Bay Area-based Sunflower Alliance, says that these fines could have been much higher. “It’s clear that announcing the inspections gave the oil company the opportunity to reduce their fines,” says MacKerel. “These kinds of inspections need to be unannounced to have any real value.”

As he announced the slew of fines, the only federal enforcement thus far to stem from the “Bakken Blitz,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx sounded a stern warning:

The fines we are proposing today should send a message to everyone involved in the shipment of crude oil. You must test and classify this material properly if you want to use our transportation system to ship it.

But emails from the top PHMSA official on the ground to Hess strike a much friendlier tone.

On February 4, the day that the fines were publicly announced, Schroeder reached out to PHMSA’s Wills asking if he knew anything about the violations that the inspector’s higher-ups had just announced. Wills replied to Schroeder that he had just learned about the fines, but said that he hoped PHMSA and industry leaders could “get it all on one page working together as a coordinated effort not an enforcement effort.”

Avoiding “enforcement” would appear to contradict the point of the Bakken Blitz, not to mention the very mission of PHSMA—whose job is to enforce existing regulations. After all, federal hazmat regulations are nothing new. The Department of Transportation’s crackdown is only supposed to make sure that North Dakota oil shippers are following the same practices that other truck drivers and railroad operators across the country have to comply with every day.

The emails may indicate a disconnect between federal priorities and those of local regulators. Just before the fines were issued, safety concerns over crude-by-rail shipments had again taken the national stage. On December 30, 2013, a derailed grain train collided with an oil train in Casselton, North Dakota, sending 400,000 gallons of Bakken crude up in flames, and forcing residents to evacuate. Days after that, PHMSA issued a safety alert warning, noting “the type of crude oil being transported from the Bakken region may be more flammable than traditional heavy crude oil.” And later that month, Secretary Foxx issued a “Call to Action” and met with railroad executives and major players in the oil and gas industry like the American Petroleum Institute.

Referencing this meeting in his email to rail supervisor Schroeder, Wills appeared to suggest the impetus for the fines came from agency superiors in Washington “Once the results came back and the Secretary of Transportation met with the energy companies and railroad CEO’s [sic], it left the control of field staff and became a larger issue,” he wrote. “In my mind, the solution is getting the bosses from both sides around the table and discussing feasible testing schedules, etc. I will be in North Dakota next week and I am hoping to have a lot more information from my own agency by then on what the [Notice of Proposed Violation] means and what we can do as far as working in partnership.”

Those bosses eventually did sit around the table. PHMSA spokesperson Gordon Delcambre tells In These Times that officials from the agency’s Hazmat Safety Office met with representatives from the North Dakota Petroleum Council on April 1 to discuss “joint interest in the safe transportation of crude oil.” The Council does not publicly disclose all of its members, but the board of directors includes Hess, Marathon, Whiting and other major energy companies such as Enbridge Pipelines and ConocoPhillips.

There have been no fines announced since February, although Delcambre says that Bakken Blitz is still ongoing.

Safety advocates say the emails illustrate a business-friendly regulatory approach that runs counter to the core mission of the agency.

“It’s telling that PHMSA has no interest in enforcement,” says Matt Krogh, Tar Sands Free West Coast campaign director at ForestEthics, an environmental group based in the Pacific Northwest. “Their goal appears to be to work together with industrial violators, not to provide the enforcement mechanism provided for in the law, and requested by higher ups in the Department of Transportation. Companies that routinely misclassify hazardous materials destined to transit America’s main streets and urban centers should be prosecuted, not coddled.”

It’s a familiar critique of what’s been referred to as a “sleepy, industry-dominated organization.” PHMSA routinely comes under fire for being too friendly with the energy industry that it regulates and for taking too long to issue much-needed rules. The small-budget agency also has oversight of the nation’s interstate oil and gas pipelines. Its 151 inspectors cover more than 2 million miles of pipeline across the country. And the unexpected shale-drilling boom has left the agency in charge of another daunting task—monitoring crude-by-rail shipments. Grappling with a dearth of pipelines, North Dakota oil producers have found rail to be the easiest, cheapest means of getting their product to market. Railroads carried more than 400,000 carloads of crude oil last year, according to the Association of American Railroads—compared to only 9,500 in 2008.

As shipments have increased, so, too, have accidents. The industry’s safety practices—from the tank-cars and routes it uses to the way it tests and classifies its shipments—garner increasing national and international attention. Last week in Washington, the National Transportation Safety Board convened a “Rail Safety Forum,” bringing together different government agencies and industry officials to discuss growing challenges. And in an unprecedented move, earlier this month, a United Nations panel on hazardous materials agreed to weigh in to the matter. The panel reportedly accepted a request from American and Canadian authorities to examine whether existing shipping rules in North America properly account for how dangerous and volatile Bakken-drilled crude actually is.

Washington may well be making moves to beef up safety practices and enforcement efforts. However, the emails obtained by In These Times raise questions about how successfully that message is being transmitted to inspectors on the ground.


Cole Stangler
is an In These Times staff writer and Schumann Fellow based in Washington D.C., covering labor, trade, foreign policy and environmental issues. His reporting has appeared in The Huffington Post and The American Prospect, and has been cited in The New York Times.