Senators voice concerns about oil train disclosure rule

Eight U.S. Senators sent a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Wednesday urging him to enforce stronger disclosure requirements on railroads shipping highly flammable Bakken crude oil.

Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) voiced their concerns over community right-to-know and disclosure requirements for crude-by-rail shipments that were in the May 1 Final Rule on Enhanced Tank Car Standards and Operational Controls for High-Hazard Flammable Trains.

“We call upon you to issue an Emergency Order that improves the process for providing detailed information on crude-by-rail movements and volumes to first responders, shifts the onus for information sharing onto the railroads and not communities, and allows for the continued public availability of broader crude-by-rail data on movements and routes,” the Senators said.

Railroads must share information on the shipment of crude oil with emergency responders under the new rules; however, the information can be kept from public disclosure because of state and federal open records laws.

“The Final Rule constitutes a setback on disclosure requirements that could hamper our first responders and negatively impact the safety of our communities,” the Senators said. "We urge you to promptly address these shortfalls and look forward to your response.”

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