WASHINGTON – The United States and Canada have a 400-page plan to control oil train dangers that walks a thin line: promote safety without stifling a business that has spurred domestic oil production.
As with many such contentious issues, calls by regulators to retrofit oil tank cars, reduce speeds and require new braking systems in the continent’s oil-by-rail business offered something for everyone, and pleased none.
On Friday, battle lines were being drawn on all sides: environmental groups decried the decade allowed to retire existing tank cars.
Lawmakers asked why there was not more attention on crude oil volatility – a possible factor in past, powerful explosions.
A leading voice for the rail industry hinted at lawsuits and a high-ranking regulator said he was ready for that challenge.
Here are some details of the plan and a bit of what was heard in the hours after that plan was announced:
Oil trains must adopt advanced brakes by 2021
Despite the danger that an industry could sue to block the rule “We believe strongly that our rule will stand up,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
“I’m happy to say on the record that we have lawyers taking a look at this,” said Ed Hamberger, president of the Association of American Railroads. “There is a process for an appeal.”
There are no federal standards to curb oil train volatility
Regulators “failed to ensure that railroad companies can be held financially responsible if they cause disasters,” said the American Association for Justice, the trade group for trial lawyers.
“We also need to improve our understanding of the chemicals and flammable materials being transported along our railways,” said Senator John Manchin, a Democrat representing West Virginia.
Existing oil train tankers may stay on the tracks until 2025
Rail car manufacturers say there is no “shop capacity to meet the retrofit timeline,” said Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute.
“The phase-out timeline lets the industry take too long to implement” said Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat.
This article was from Reuters and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.