Hoeven Statement on DOT's Proposed Rail Tank Car Standards

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven issued the following statement in response to the Department of Transportation (DOT) release today of proposed rules for governing rail tanker cars. Since December 2012, Hoeven has been pressing federal regulators to expedite and update standards to make tank cars more safe.

“We appreciate that DOT has issued its proposal for rail tank cars today that appears to be comprehensive and deals with prevention, mitigation and response. We will continue to review these proposed standards to ensure they are workable and will keep our communities safe,” said Hoeven. “For over two years we’ve been pressing DOT to update and expedite standards for rail cars and we will continue working to bring together all relevant stakeholders to ensure we have common sense and comprehensive rail safety standards.”

Hoeven said the proposal includes measures relating to speed, testing and classification, enhanced tank car standards and a proposal for training and response, all designed to prevent, mitigate and respond to accidents. Communities and stakeholders will have 60 days to submit public comment on the proposed rules and options for speed restrictions, classification methodology and rail tank standards to ensure they are workable and improve safety. The final rule will be established early next year.

Hoeven has been pressing DOT to finalize standards to ensure that the industry can transition to the newer, safer tanker cars in a timely manner.

In January, Hoeven organized a meeting with DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) head Cynthia Quarterman, and a group of industry leaders to press for a comprehensive rail safety strategy. The group met a week later, with Foxx, Quarterman and Federal Rail Administration (FRA) head Joseph Szabo, as well as oil and rail industry leaders to develop strategies to prevent derailments and to push for a rule that works and makes tank cars more safe.

In April, Hoeven hosted Foxx and the other stakeholders in Casselton to help advance a comprehensive approach to transporting crude oil safely by rail.

Additionally, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Hoeven worked to include rail safety provisions in the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill, including increased inspectors and track inspections, making sure products are shipped in the right containers, implementing Positive Train Control (PTC) technology, which monitors and controls train movements to provide increased safety, enhancing emergency response training and issuing guidelines for safer tanker car construction.