DOT outlines options for enhancing tank car standards
Today, I visited Casselton, North Dakota, to reaffirm DOT's commitment to making sure energy products transported by train are carried safely.
My trip to Casselton came as the result of an invitation from North Dakota’s Congressional delegation –Senators Hoeven and Heitkamp, and Congressman Cramer– all of whom have been working with DOT on ways to strengthen the safe transport of crude oil since a train carrying crude crashed near Casselton last January. It was good to have the chance to hear directly from them, along with Congressman Peterson from Minnesota and local leaders at a roundtables in Casselton and Fargo today, so I could express how grateful we at DOT are for their support as we work to respond to this challenge.
Safety is our top priority, which is why we're putting every option on the table when it comes to improving the safe transport of crude oil by rail. In addition to updating tank car regulations, we have taken immediate action-- issuing multiple safety advisories, conducting investigations, and reaching agreements with the rail industry to reduce speeds, utilize new braking technology and improve first responder training-- an unprecedented, comprehensive approach.
One thing I emphasized this afternoon is that all of the actions we have taken to date are just first steps. More safety measures are on the way.
In fact, I was happy to have the opportunity in Casselton to announce that DOT plans to send a comprehensive rulemaking package to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs next week. The proposal will include options for enhancing tank car standards. We look forward to working collaboratively with OIRA on the Administration’s proposal and initiating the formal comment process as soon as possible.
I’m also sending a letter today to producers requesting “all available results and data regarding the variability and flammability of Bakken crude.” It's not the first time we've asked for this information, but we continue to cast as wide a net as possible to gather as much data as possible.
And, looking ahead, we’re working with Congress to support a proposal that will be part of our reauthorization bill –a $40-million flexible fund, which will provide us with more resources to enhance the safe transport of energy products.
It's no secret that more and more trains are on our rails carrying more and more domestically produced fuels. Increased energy production is good for America, but as we welcome the opportunity to be a world leader in energy production, we must also make sure that we remain a world leader in transportation safety.