February 03, 2016

Wyden, Durbin, Casey, Merkley Introduce Amendment to Increase Transparency for Oil-by-Rail Transportation

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Robert P. Casey, Jr., D-Pa., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., today introduced an amendment to a broad energy bill to provide more transparent information about shipments of flammable liquids transported by railroads, including crude oil, ethanol and liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The amendment would require the Energy Information Administration (EIA) to collect and publish monthly data about flammable liquids transported by railroad. The senators introduced the amendment to the Energy Policy Modernization Act, which the Senate is considering this week.

“Railroads have become synonymous with shipping crude oil and ethanol, and in a few years may well become synonymous with shipping liquefied natural gas,” Wyden said. “Taxpayers deserve timely, transparent and reliable information on flammable liquids moving through different regions by rail, and the very real safety concerns that go along with it.”

The amendment would put into law an initiative the EIA began in March, when it started publishing crude oil-by-rail shipments. The amendment also expands this initiative to provide the same information for ethanol, and LNG. The Federal Railroad Administration recently approved the first application to transport LNG by railroad, and other railroads are following suit.

Shipments of crude oil-by-rail and ethanol increased dramatically over the last decade, and have been involved in numerous accidents across the country, raising serious concerns about safety of transporting crude oil, ethanol and LNG by rail.

In response to those concerns, Wyden, Casey and Merkley introduced the Hazardous Materials Rail Transportation Safety Improvement Act (S. 1175) last spring. The bill creates a market-based incentive for companies to make the transition from outdated, dangerous tank cars to newer, safer ones.

The bill also provides funding for safety training for first responders, and provides transparent information about flammable liquids moved by rail through local communities. It is cosponsored by 10 other senators.