Hoeven Calls on Fellow Appropriations Committee Members for More Rail Inspectors, Support for Rail Safety

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, called on fellow members of the committee to include funding for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to enhance railroad safety. Hoeven made the request in a letter to Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-Me.). The complete text of the letter can be found here.

“Recent train derailments, and specifically the train derailment in Casselton, North Dakota, highlight the need to transport energy products as safely as possible,” the senator wrote. “I believe that the Senate Appropriations Committee should provide the funding necessary to ensure FRA and PHMSA have the resources necessary to minimize the risk of train derailments and prevent fires or explosions if a derailment occurs. In particular, there is an increased need for improved rail inspections as one part of a comprehensive plan to improve rail safety for our communities. While I have continued working with the responsible agencies, as well as industry, to make sure we advance our safety efforts, one thing is clear, we need to increase funding to match these efforts.”

Hoeven called for strengthening the FRA’s rail safety functions, including track inspections and safety reviews of railroads nationwide, and also that Fiscal Year 2015 appropriations bill includes adequate funding for PHMSA to ensure the safe transportation of crude by rail. PHMSA launched “Operation Classification” to help ensure that shippers and carriers have the necessary information to properly classify crude and that the crude is properly labeled when it is transported.

“U.S. Class I railroads carried only 9,500 carloads of crude in 2008 but with the growth of domestic oil production that number has grown to 234,000 in 2012 and was likely around 400,000 in 2013,” Hoeven wrote. “With this rapid growth in the use of crude tankers, it is important that PHMSA has the necessary resources to hire new inspectors.”