Senate Dems Seek Stronger Oil Train Safety Rules

By:  The Hill - Timothy Cama
Source: The Hill

Senate Democrats have proposed a bill to set stronger safety rules for trains carrying oil, including regulating the content of the oil itself.

Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) said the most critical problem with the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) ongoing regulatory effort on oil trains is that it does not confront the problem of the volatility of oil from North Dakota’s Bakken region.

The volatility and content of explosive gases in the oil makes it much more likely that trains would explode if they crash or derail, the senators said.

“Needless to say, the issue of volatility is a very big issue for us,” Cantwell, top Democrat in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, told reporters Wednesday.

She blamed oil volatility for the 2013 oil train explosion in Quebec, Canada, that killed 47, and said such explosions frequently destroy everything in a half-mile radius. The number of oil train disasters has increased sharply in recent years along with domestic oil production, and they are often accompanied by explosions.