Pennsylvania governor asks Obama for stronger crude-by-rail rules

Noting that 60-70 trains/week carry Bakken crude oil across Pennsylvania to the Philadelphia area or other East Coast refineries, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) asked US President Barack Obama for stronger federal regulations to prevent derailments and improve safety.

Noting that 60-70 trains/week carry Bakken crude oil across Pennsylvania to the Philadelphia area or other East Coast refineries, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) asked US President Barack Obama for stronger federal regulations to prevent derailments and improve safety.

“I have already taken actions to address this issue including holding emergency trainings, participating in meetings with executives, and tasking my administration to put plans in place to both prevent accidents and mitigate impacts,” Wolf separately said on Feb. 27.

“We also need expedited federal regulatory action in several areas along with a greater commitment to funding inspection and enforcement,” Wolf said. “We cannot afford to wait for a major incident before taking action.”

In his Feb. 26 letter to Obama, Wolf called for consistent national standards to reduce Bakken crude’s volatility prior to transport, further reduction of trains’ speed limits through urban areas, more federal inspections of rail infrastructure, better braking systems and tank car designs, and accelerated federal rail safety rulemaking.

Wolf sent his letter 10 days after a CSX train carrying Bakken crude derailed near Mount Carbon, W.Va. (OGJ Online, Feb. 17, 2015). The US Federal Railroad Administration announced on Feb. 22 that it was moving forward with a full-scale forensic investigation following a slow start hampered by weather and safety concerns.

The US Department of Transportation, within which FRA and the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration are agencies, submitted a draft final rule covering safe transportation of crude oil and other flammable liquids by rail to the White House Office of Management and Budget on Feb. 5 for formal review.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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