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Governor Brown Blasts Trump Administration Efforts to Roll Back Oil Train Safety

Oil train wreck, Mosier, OR
The Oregonian photo

Governor Brown Blasts Trump Administration Efforts to Roll Back Oil Train Safety

(Salem, OR) — Governor Kate Brown today blasted the Trump Administration for weakening federal rail standards and questions the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) actions to roll back rules designed to improve oil train safety. The Obama administration’s 2015 administrative rule requires trains carrying highly explosive liquids to have electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes installed by 2021. But on Monday, citing “inconclusive” scientific findings, the USDOT rolled back the 2015 mandate.

“Safety shouldn’t be up for political debate,” Governor 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. It’s deeply troubling that the federal administration used inconclusive science to justify rolling back a safety standard without taking other actions that would improve rail safety. All of our communities deserve to know that every measure is being taken to ensure these trains are safe.”

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In 2016, more than 10,000 carloads of crude oil and related products moved by rail through Oregon, which included the train that derailed and caught fire in Mosier in June. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, electronic brakes would have reduced the severity of the derailment in Mosier, an accident that could have been much worse.

Governor Brown met with federal officials in 2016 following the Mosier oil spill to urge adoption of stronger federal regulation. In a letter to legislators, Governor Brown also urged policymakers to implement additional safety standards, speed-up the removal of outdated, unsafe tank cars and provide additional resources to protect local communities.

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.

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