Two weeks ago, we flagged an NPR piece about the dangers of transporting oil by rail. Very glad to see that we're not the only ones concerned.
Today, Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington will introduce federal legislation to prevent oil train disasters. From the Public Citizen release on the bill:
The U.S. Department of Transportation proposed safety standards in July 2014, but those rules are being delayed by a U.S. Office of Management and Budget review and by continuing opposition from the oil and railroad industries. . . .
The bill sets a federal safety standard for the more volatile tar sands and shale crude oil. It requires rail cars to be protected by steel shells that are more puncture-resistant as well as thermal jackets that increase fire resistance, and an immediate halt to the transport of oil in any rail car that hasn’t been reinforced.
The bill also mandates more safety inspections of rail carriers and oil producers, heftier penalties for noncompliance and improved spill response plans, and requires that state and local authorities be notified before oil trains move through their communities.