The two largest railroad companies in California this week filed a lawsuit stating that the state does not have the authority to impose state safety requirements on crude oil trains that are in addition to federal rules.
The lawsuit comes after a new law in California that enacts new regulations on crude oil trains in the state. Union Pacific and BNSF Railway filed the federal case in Sacramento’s US district court, arguing that federal law supercedes CA and other states from enforcing their own rules.
According to BNSF, the new laws in the sate require both railroads to take more steps to prevent and respond to any oil spill. This is in addition to the federal rules that cover the same situations. They added that railroad companies will not be able to operate in the state unless a regulator gives the go ahead for oil spill prevention and response plans.
The railroads also must obtain a certificate of financial responsibility from CA, to indicate that they can cover any damages that stem from an oil spill. Failure to comply could expose any employee of the railroads to jail time and fines.
Many states have been looking at imposing their own stricter rules on the operation of oil trains in their state. This is in the wake of crude oil train derailments that have occurred in Canada and in Virginia in the last two years. The accident in Virginia, near Lynchburg, led to several oil train cars to plunge into the James River.
We have seen many accidents and injuries due to trains in our work as Virginia train accident attorneys. It pleases us to see that rules are being carefully crafted to ensure public safety regarding oil trains. Hopefully, a proper balance can be found between profits and public safety in California, Virginia and other states.