Putting the Brakes on Crude Oil Train Regulation

In 2013, a runaway crude oil train derailed and exploded in the center of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing 47 people. Similar derailments of crude oil trains occurred in North Dakota in 2013 and Oregon in 2016. Despite federal legislation demanding improved rail safety, safety experts charge that a recent policy change adopted by the Trump Administration will leave the public exposed to the dangers of rail accidents. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) last fall announced that it had rescinded a mandate on installing electronically controlled pneumatic brakes (ECP). After completing a study required by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) of 2015, PHMSA stated that “the expected costs of requiring ECP brakes would be significantly higher than the expected benefits of the requirement,” although railroads are still free to install ECP brakes should they wish.…

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