Monday, April 20, 2015

House Rail Safety Bill Introduced; Admin Calls for Stricter Drilling Regs

Thompson authors rail safety act

  April 19, 2015   Martinez News-Gazette

A second group of federal lawmakers has introduced legislation to regulate the transport of crude oil by rail.

U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) yesterday introduced the Crude-By-Rail Safety Act (H.R. 1804), which the congressman said would set new safety and security standards to address growing concerns that current standards fail to address the threat posed by transporting crude oil by rail.

Thompson said the bill would “establish new, common sense federal safety standards for railcars transporting oil across the country.”.

The act would take on a number of factors, including maximum volatility standard for crude oil transported by rail, higher fines for violating volatility standards and hazmat transport standards. The act will also seek to remove 37,700 unsafe cars off the rail network and recommend other measures to increase the safety of crude by rail.

“Public safety is priority No. 1 when it comes to transporting highly volatile crude oil,” Thompson said in the release.....

....“Rail cars transporting crude run through the heart of our communities, and as recent accidents have demonstrated, robust, comprehensive action is needed,” Thompson said in a press release....

According to Thompson, the bill would:
• establish a maximum volatility standard for crude oil;
• prohibit the use of DOT-111 tank cars;
• require comprehensive oil spill response planning and studies;
• increase fines for violating volatility and hazmat transport standards;
• require disclosure of train movements through communities and emergency response plans; and
• require railroads to implement a confidential close-call reporting system.
 ....  more here

 In this Wednesday, April 21, 2010 file photo, a large plume of smoke rises from fires on BP's Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig. (AP Photo)
By Rachelle Gaynor,   4/20/15
April 20 marks the five-year anniversary of the BP oil spill that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The explosion, and subsequent 87-day-long oil leak, was the country's worst maritime petroleum spill in history. As a response to this tragedy, referred to as the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, several proposals came out to limit and regulate offshore drilling for oil and gas wells.

Last week, the Obama administration issued a new report that calls for strict regulations and safety enhancements to offshore oil and gas drilling. This is believed to be the most extensive set of regulations to be approved since the accident occurred five years ago.

"This rule builds on enhanced industry standards for blowout preventers to comprehensively address well design, well control and overall drilling safety," Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel said in a press release....

...One major focus of the new regulations is the blowout preventer, a piece of safety equipment that malfunctioned in the Deepwater Horizon tragedy which resulted in "the loss of well control, an explosion, fire and subsequent days-long spill," Jewel explained.

"In addition to more stringent design requirements, the proposed rule requires improved controls of all repair and maintenance activities through the lifecycle of the blowout preventer and other well control equipment," she said.

Some of the other adjustments that the rule proposes are changes to overall well design, real-time monitoring of the wells and more immediate containment of leaks if they occur.

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