SCHUMER INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO INCENTIVIZE RAIL COMPANIES TO PHASE OUT DANGEROUS CRUDE OIL-CARRYING TANKER CARS SOONER RATHER THAN LATER – BILL WOULD PLACE A FEE ON OLD & DANGEROUS RAIL CARS CARRYING VOLATILE CRUDE, AND GIVE FINANCIAL INCENTIVE TO THOSE WHO PHASE OUT WITHIN 3 YEARS
Schumer Says Bill Would Help Protect All New York Communities – Which See Tanker Cars Barrel Through Backyards Across NY State Every Day – By Providing Incentive to Phase Out Dangerous Cars like DOT-111s and CPC-1232s Within 3-Year Time Period
Legislation Would Require Companies Pay a Fee to Use Dangerous Cars; Would Provide Financial Incentive to Companies That Phase Out ASAP
Schumer: We Need an All-of-the-Above Approach to Protecting Our Communities from the Dangers of Oil-by-Rail
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced legislation that would help protect local communities that experience dangerous oil tanker cars barreling through their backyards every day by providing an incentive for companies to phase out older, dangerous tanker cars sooner rather than later. Schumer has long fought to get these tanker cars that carry volatile crude, which are prone to explosion in a derailment, off the rails and out of communities as soon as possible. Schumer explained that the Hazardous Materials Rail Transportation Safety Improvement Act of 2015, which Senator Schumer introduced along with Senators Wyden, Feinstein, and Merkley, would reduce risks to communities near railroad tracks by speeding up the phase-out of older tank cars and encouraging companies to replace them with newer, safer cars. This legislation would establish a $175 fee on the oldest and most dangerous tank cars used to ship crude oi,l and would use the revenue from that fee to provide grants to communities for emergency preparedness, first responders, and additional inspectors. In addition, it would make available a tax credit for companies that upgrade their tank cars to the highest required safety standard within three years.
“We need an all-of-the-above approach when it comes to phasing out these dangerous and old tank cars. That is why I will continue to push OMB and DOT to release a tough, comprehensive tank-car standard. Partnering that new standard with this tank-car safety bill, which creates a financial incentive to phase out these dangerous cars, will help to ensure that they are more rapidly removed from the rails and our communities,” said Senator Schumer.
Schumer explained that the legislation establishes a fee on DOT-111 tank cars used to transport crude oil, ethanol or other flammable liquids. The per-car fee starts at $175 per car per shipment and increases annually. Funds from the newly established fee would then be used to reduce risks to communities by training first responders, hiring state railroad inspectors, and relocating tracks that carry large volumes of flammable liquids or gases. Under this legislation, the fee would pay for clean-up costs stemming from railroad accidents involving flammable liquids, including crude oil and ethanol. It would also help provide preparedness and training grants totaling $45 million over three years for first responders in communities through which large quantities of crude oil, ethanol, liquefied natural gas or other flammable liquids are transported by rail. Finally, it would also pay for grants of $100 million over four years to reroute railroad tracks handling large volumes of flammable liquids, and help states hire additional railroad inspectors and a tax credit would be made available to companies that upgrade CPC-1232 cars in 2016, 2017 or 2018 to the new standard established in the forthcoming DOT rule.
In addition, this bill would require the implementation of outstanding NTSB recommendations that require railroad companies establish education programs for communities along hazardous materials routes; improve information made available to emergency workers responding to railroad accidents involving hazardous materials; and strengthen track inspection standards. The Energy Information Administration would also be required to publish data regarding railroad shipments of flammable energy products, including crude oil, ethanol and liquefied natural gas for communities. The DOT would also be required to conduct a study examining national, regional and local first responder preparedness for railroad accidents involving large volumes of flammable liquids as well as study whether longer freight trains pose greater risks to health and safety. Finally, the Census Bureau must report the types of rail tank cars used to transport flammable liquids in each of its 2017, 2022 and 2027 censuses.
Schumer said that, across New York State, the dangers posed by shipping volatile Bakken crude oil by rail have become increasingly clear. With hundreds of tank cars full of Bakken crude oil traveling through the state every day, Schumer has worked over the past year and a half to better ensure the safety of residents by pushing to strengthen tank car standards that would make explosions less likely in the instance of derailments and breaches.
Schumer highlighted that this legislation should work as a compliment to the new Comprehensive Tank Car Rule that he has been pushing DOT and OMB to release. This legislation, in combination with a final rule that requires the phase out of older cars will help provide both a carrot and a stick to phasing out older and dangerous cars and ensure communities have access to additional resources to help prepare in the event of an emergency.
In 2013, Schumer successfully pushed the federal DOT to propose a rule to regulate these DOT-111 tank cars. Since August 2013, Schumer has worked tirelessly to address issues associated with the hazardous materials these train cars carry through communities every day, namely pushing for the phasing out or retrofitting of DOT-111 train cars that are prone to explosion during derailments. Following previous crashes the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a series of recommendations, including to the Pipeline and Hazmat Safety Administration to require all service tank cars carrying fuel ethanol and crude oil to have protections and features that far exceed the DOT-111 design requirements.
Schumer has also pushed for better information-sharing among railroad companies and local first responders, who are often the first on the scene of a derailment. Prior to Schumer’s push, railroad companies carrying hazardous materials through New York communities were not required to notify local first responders when trains were coming and the type of hazardous material they were carrying, but a recent emergency order by the DOT now requires this information to be shared with essential local emergency personnel.
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