Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Buffett Bluffs Feds- Threatens Shut-down

Regulators blink in standoff with Buffett over shipping oil by rail

Reuters    September 8, 2015

NTSB may let Buffett’s trains keep shipping oil after Jan. 1 deadline for installing better safety controls.

U.S. railroads may not be obligated under federal law to carry freight including crude oil and hazardous materials from Jan. 1 if they fail to meet a year-end deadline for implementing new train safety technology, according to a top federal regulator.

In a Sept. 3 letter to the Senate Commerce Committee, U.S. Surface Transportation Board Chairman Daniel Elliott says the common carrier obligation requiring freight railroads to honor reasonable requests for service from shippers “is not absolute, and railroads can suspend service for various reasons, including safety.”....

.....The approaching deadline has prompted at least one major railroad company to look seriously at suspending service: BNSF Railway Co, the No. 2 freight railroad operator and the leading carrier in the $2.8 billion U.S. crude-by-rail market, which is part of billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc .

“BNSF confirmed that it will not meet the deadline and offered the possibility that neither passenger nor freight traffic would operate on BNSF lines,” Elliott said in the letter, which was addressed to the committee’s Republican chairman, Senator John Thune of South Dakota.

In a July 24 letter provided to Reuters by BNSF, railroad president and chief executive Carl Ice informed Elliott that BNSF is analyzing the possibility of a service shutdown and actively consulting with customers.....

.....Railroad officials in June raised the possibility of shutting down service as a way to avoid potential legal liabilities and fines for operating outside the law.....    

Railroad officials have complained about the cost and complexity of adopting PTC and have produced freight and commuter rail estimates showing full implementation could cost the industry nearly $13 billion.

A six-year transportation bill approved by the Senate last month would allow the Obama administration to extend the deadline for up to three years....  more here


Oil train risks affect many U.S. schools, group says

Reuters   Sept. 8, 2015

Thousands of U.S. schools sit along rail corridors used to carry toxic substances such as crude oil and would be at risk in the event of a derailment, an environmental group said on Tuesday as it called for a temporary halt on oil trains.

ForestEthics said its analysis of U.S. Department of Education data show nearly 15,000 schools with 5.7 million students sit inside the so-called 'blast zone', the one-mile area along railroad tracks the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) recommends be evacuated in case of crashes.....    more here

Update: better article here

Learning 'Inside the Blast Zone': Oil Trains Put Millions of Children at Risk

"Railroad disasters shouldn’t be one of the 'three Rs' on the minds of school kids and their parents."   - CommonDreams


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