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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: November 9, 2015 03:15 PM
From: Senator John C. Rafferty, Jr. and Sen. Gene Yaw
To: All Senate members
Subject: Resolution to USDOT on Crude by Rail Shipments
In the near future, we will be introducing a resolution to the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) that aims to adopt a higher pool fire survivability standard and to assist with additional federal funds to maintain the training of emergency first responders to sustain the safe transportation of crude by rail shipments in Pennsylvania.

As you may know, the oil and natural gas extraction in the Bakken Shale region of North Dakota is being transported through Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, there have been several accidents involving crude oil trains in the United States and Canada with the worst incident occurring in Quebec, Canada involving an oil train derailment and explosion that killed 47 people and leveled the community. While there have been several high-profile accidents, train derailments are rare since 99 percent of carloads reach their destination without a release caused by an accident.

Following a Joint Hearing between the Senate Transportation Committee and the Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee in June 2015 on this topic, we collected invaluable feedback from a variety of testifiers to better understand the transportation of and response to crude by rail shipments. We learned that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration under the USDOT have primary jurisdiction over the regulation and oversight responsibilities of hazardous materials transported by rail under the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act and the Federal Rail Safety Act.

Please join us in supporting stronger safety standards endorsed by the railroad industry as well as additional federal funds for the proactive planning for and response to a potential incident involving the transportation of crude by rail shipments in an effort to reduce any threats to the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of this Commonwealth.

If you have any questions, please contact Nolan Ritchie, Senate Transportation Committee, at nritchie@pasen.gov or Adam Pankake, Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee, at apankake@pasen.gov.

Introduced as SR247