Govs. Jay Inslee and Kate Brown are blasting the Trump Administration’s actions to roll back rules that improve oil train safety. The Obama Administration’s 2015 administrative rule requires trains carrying highly explosive liquids to have electronically controlled pneumatic brakes installed by 2021.
“The Trump Administration is taking a reckless and dangerous step by caving to corporate special interests and undoing one of the few new safety rules we won,” Inslee said. “The new rules were based on sound fact and science, and they are crucial to protecting our communities against high-hazard oil trains rolling through the Columbia River Gorge and our states. Whatever this administration chooses to believe about our energy future and need to protect our environment, this is about the safety of millions of Washingtonians and Oregonians.”
“Safety shouldn’t be up for political debate,” Gov. Brown said. “Oregonians know firsthand the critical importance of rail safety, and we expect the federal government to do all it can to put in place standards that protect communities and prevent dangerous accidents. I call on federal policy makers use reliable data and best practices to put in place the strongest rail safety measures for all trains traveling through Oregon and Washington."
The shipment of oil by rail in Washington state increased from zero in 2011 to 2.3 billion gallons per year in 2017. An oil train derailment in Lac-Megantic, Quebec in 2013 killed 47 people. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, electronic brakes would have reduced the severity of the derailment in Mosier, Oregon in June last year, an accident that could have been much worse.
Inslee met with federal officials in 2016, following the Mosier oil spill to urge adoption of stronger federal regulations and has worked with legislators to implement additional inspection, safety and notification requirements.
The Trump Administration is citing high costs as rationale to remove the rule. The Trump Administration also recently issued a decision to withdraw sleep/fatigue rules for railroad employees.