Two-month comment period starts for new federal oil train rules

Repost from The Hill
[Editor: The U.S. Department of Transportation is proposing new rules for oil train transport. You can post a comment online here.  The proposed rules, including instructions for submitting comments, can be downloaded here.  – RS]

Comment period starts for oil train rules

By Timothy Cama – 08/01/14

The Obama administration Friday formally published proposals in the Federal Register to stiffen safety rules for trains carrying crude oil and other fuels, kicking off a two-month period in which the public can comment.

The proposals were prompted chiefly by the increase in oil shipped by rail from the Bakken region of North Dakota, which Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said last week necessitates “a new world order on how this stuff moves.” A train carrying crude derailed in Quebec last year, setting off an explosion that killed 47.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed phasing out old rail cars for oil and other flammable liquids like ethanol, implementing new speed and braking standards for the trains and establishing a new testing and classification system for the fuels. Foxx called the rules “the most significant progress” in protecting the country from explosions caused by trains carrying Bakken crude.

DOT said it wants comments on three different possible rules for speed limits and three different options for the thickness of steel on cars.

DOT also said it was not likely to extend the comment period beyond the 60-day standard, “given the urgency of the safety issues addressed in these proposals.”