Saturday, February 7, 2015

Can you write a comment or 3?

Action Alert! Thanks Don!
Hello friends,
There are three important bills in the legislature that reduce the risk of oil trains. 
These bills will be opposed by industry and will need a very strong push from us.  Please submit comments of support for the following three bills, one at a time.

A note from Laura (who testified in Olympia last week), on what our focus should be here:
I was specifically told, by two RR union members who are lobbyists, NOT to mention environmental concerns, don't mention carbon, don't mention your opposition to coal and oil trains.  Don't even bring up the "E" word.
This is a safety issue for the railroaders and nothing else. We can blow it for them by going beyond safety when we contact our legislators in writing or in person about these bills.

HB 1809  Requires more crewmembers on hazardous trains.
Encourage your legislator to require 4 crew members on unit oil trains. 

HB 1284  Addresses yardmaster fatigue
Encourage your legislator to protect yardmasters from overwork and fatigue by placing those on Class I railroads under Federal hours of service regulation.

HB 1808 places everyone who transports train crews under UTC.
Several years ago, two people were killed in an accident related to an unregulated shuttle driver.  Require the Utilities and Transportation Commission in Olympia to regulate these charter shuttle companies.

Easy Peasy!

Back in 2012 the number of rail shipments of ethanol were 30 percent greater than the number of carloads of crude oil shipped by rail.
But according to AAR president Edward Hamberger’s  testimony at Tuesday’s House hearing, about 500,000 carloads of oil were shipped by rail last year, so oil by rail has now surpassed ethanol by rail.
Hamberger also noted that “exactly seven cars were in an accident that released crude oil out of about 500,000. That’s 99.999 percent safety.”
But Jared Margolis, a staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, said in response to Wednesday’s ethanol spill, “The train derailment and ethanol spill now affecting the Mississippi River is just the latest reminder that the Department of Transportation is not taking aggressive enough steps to protect us from the growing threat posed by use of out-dated DOT-111 tank cars.”

BNSF plans $189M in rail work across state

By Eric Florip, Columbian transportation & environment reporter, The Columbian
BNSF Railway will spend $189 million toward maintenance and improvements on its track system in Washington this year, the company announced Friday.
The work will include more than 1,000 miles of track surfacing and undercutting, the replacement of almost 50 miles of rail and 200,000 railroad ties, among other fixes. Areas of focus will include BNSF’s Columbia River Gorge main line east of Vancouver and the route between Vancouver and Seattle, said BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas. BNSF also expects to start construction this year on the replacement of a railroad bridge over the Washougal River in Camas.

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