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Manchin, others urging tighter rail tanker rules

BECKLEY, W.Va. — Following a number of train derailments hauling crude oil, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.,  was among 21 senators who sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations subcommittee Tuesday supporting funding for a program aimed at improving coordination between various agencies with the U.S. Department of Transportation. 

The proposed program would consolidate the regulatory units within each agency to allow the Secretary of Transportation to develop uniform safety standards for the transportation of crude and other energy products, said a spokesperson for the senator.

 The agencies affected would including the Federal Railroad Administration, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials and Substances Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

“As you know, five years ago, our nation’s railroads hauled very little crude oil by rail. Now, railroads transport approximately one-tenth of U.S. crude oil output — approximately 1.1 million barrels per day,” the letter reads.

It continues that since 2007 crude-by-rail is driven largely by the vast natural gas and oil developments in the Bakken oilfields in North Dakota and Montana.

“In light of several tragic accidents involving crude-by-rail trains — including the most recent derailments and explosions of tanker cars carrying crude oil in West Virginia and Illinois — communities stretching across our country from the Midwest to coastal ports and refineries are rightly concerned about the safe movement of these combustible products,” the letter to Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, chair of the Appropriations Committee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies.

The letter calls for “robust funding”…


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