Two Environmental Groups Demand New Federal Rules on Oil Trains

An environmental group from New York and a national conservation group are demanding that the Obama administration order new federal rules for trains that carry crude oil.

Given how much more crude oil is transported by rail compared to 10 years ago, Riverkeeper and the Center for Biological Diversity are filing a petition to cut down the length and weight of the trains that carry crude oil and other dangerous liquids.

A representative of Riverkeeper stated this week that a proposed rule by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration does not address the idea of limiting the length or the weight or crude oil trains. However, the proposed rule did note that oil trains are long, heavy, hard to control, and their great weight wears down rail weldings. On the trains themselves, there is more wear and tear on brake components. So, the group argues, it makes sense for the government to look into limiting the weight and length of such trains.

It is not clear at this time when or if the Obama administration will act on this petition.

We tend to agree that the federal government should look into more regulations of oil trains. Railroad freight traffic is near an all time high, and more first responders are having to learn how to prepare for major oil train derailments. We are experienced Virginia railroad and FELA lawyers, and we often see the injuries and deaths that major derailments and related oil spills can cause. We would be in favor of additional safety measures to keep such human and environmental catastrophes from occurring.

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