After a recent oil train derailment in Lynchburg, Virginia, resulting in several tanker cars falling into the James River, US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx ordered rail companies to provide details of oil train routes to state emergency officials.
The purpose of this policy is to prevent further such incidents from occurring, and to be prepared in those areas if a derailment happens.
Some railroads have tried to restrict the disclosure of this information from the states. They argue that the order includes confidential information that might be misused if aired in public.
Still, some states are not concerned about releasing details of how often oil trains pass through their state. One such state is Montana, whose chief legal counsel to the governor said that federal officials assured him that the information is not confidential and can be released. Montana is going to release the information, as it thinks that this will help to protect public safety.
State officials in Washington also have said that oil train details should be released to the public. Last week, public officials in that state gave railroads 10 days to get a court injunction. After that, the information will be released.
In Nebraska, state law does not allow the government to enter into a confidentiality agreement with companies that ship cargo in the state. So, Nebraska seems poised to release oil train route information as well.
Other states have agreed to keep this data secret, including Virginia, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California.