[Editor: Read the bill on Rep. McDermott’s website. Track the bill on GovTrac.us. Authenticated version of the bill is here. Co-sponsors of the bill include Representatives Jim McDermott (WA-7), Doris Matsui (CA-6), Ron Kind (WI-3), Nita Lowey (NY-17) and Mike Thompson (CA-5). A similar version of this legislation was filed in the Senate by Senators Cantwell, Baldwin and Feinstein in March 2015. – RS]
Matsui bill seeks ban on DOT-111 tank cars for oil trainsBy Curtis Tate, April 15, 2015 Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, on Wednesday introduced a bill to address safety issues with crude oil trains following a series of recent derailments, including an immediate ban on tank cars that are vulnerable to punctures and fire damage.
Matsui cited the multitude of railroad tracks passing through Sacramento, some of which have been used to transport crude oil. The oil shipments have declined recently, but could rise again once new terminals are approved and constructed.
Since the beginning of the year, four oil trains have derailed and caught fire in North America, including derailments in West Virginia and Illinois, and two in Canada.
“Too many of our communities have been devastated by the derailment of a train carrying crude oil,” Matsui said in a statement. “Enough is enough.”
Matsui’s bill would prohibit DOT-111 tank cars from transporting crude oil, set tougher construction standards for new cars than the federal government currently requires, set a minimum volatility standard for oil transported by rail, increase fines and penalties for safety violations, and require that railroads share more information about hazardous shipments with local emergency responders.
The bill, also sponsored by Reps. Ron Kind, D-Wis., and Jim McDermott, D-Wash., is similar to Senate legislation unveiled a few weeks ago by Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.
The Senate bill is also co-sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, is a co-sponsor of Matsui’s bill.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is expected to issue new regulations on oil trains in the next few weeks, once the White House Office of Management and Budget has completed a review. It could be months, however, before those rules take effect.
“With multiple sets of tracks going through our neighborhoods and downtown area,” Matsui said, “the risk of a derailment in Sacramento is too great to ignore.”