Many lawmakers join Rep. Osienski in call for crude-by-rail safety

March 27, 2015

 

 

The Honorable John C. Carney

Congressman, State of Delaware

1406 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515

 

 

Dear Congressman Carney:

 

We write to you about an issue of serious concern for tens of thousands of Delawareans we represent directly and many more residents throughout the state. Every day, more than 100,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil are shipped by rail through Delaware, arriving at the PBF Refinery in Delaware City. Even more Bakken crude travels through Delaware in railcars bound for other refineries, such as those in the Philadelphia area and southern New Jersey.

 

We recognize the important role this crude oil plays in our local and regional economy, but we also see the steady flow of news about train derailments – with devastating results. As you know, the most significant of those was in July 2013, when a runaway oil train derailed and exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec. Forty-seven people were killed and 30 buildings destroyed. Earlier this month, a 105-car train derailed near Galena, Ill., with two cars bursting into flames. These disasters show us that the unthinkable could happen anywhere these trains travel, including Delaware.

 

It is for that reason that we ask you to advance federal legislation that will ensure the safety and stability of these oil railcars and the cargo they carry. Congress should enact regulations to ensure that this domestic product reaches local refineries safely so this industry can thrive.

 

We are aware of the federal RESPONSE Act, which is being co-sponsored by Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey. That proposal would create a new layer of bureaucracy and focus mainly on training and resources for first responders. While we certainly need to be cognizant of those needs, the paramount issue is preventing these derailments and explosions from occurring in the first place. We believe that legislation like the federal Crude-by-Rail Safety Act would move us in the right direction.

 

What is needed are reasonable regulations that ensure that the railroads and oil companies are supplying and transporting a safe, stable product, and our rail lines are capable of safely delivering the cargo. Numerous proposals have been discussed in different circles, including more upgrades to railcars and train tracks, and potentially “de-gassing” the Bakken crude oil before shipping to reduce the product’s volatility.

 

Our request comes shortly after acting Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feinberg stated that oil companies should do more to ensure the safety of their shipments. We agree that all parties involved in this rapidly growing industry – from 9,500 railcars in 2008 to more than 400,000 last year – should be equal partners in ensuring the public safety before another tragedy occurs.

 

We stand ready to assist your office in any way possible. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or need additional information from us.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Ed Osienski                             David B. McBride                  Patricia M. Blevins

State Representative               Senate Majority Leader          President Pro Tempore

24th District                             13th District                             7th District

 

 

Pete Schwartzkopf                  Valerie Longhurst                   Margaret Rose Henry

Speaker of the House              House Majority Leader           Senate Majority Whip

14th District                             15th District                             2nd District

 

 

John J. Viola                           Bethany A. Hall-Long                        Robert I. Marshall

House Majority Whip             State Senator                           State Senator

26th District                             10th District                             3rd District

 

 

Harris B. McDowell III          Karen E. Peterson                   Nicole Poore

State Senator                           State Senator                           State Senator

1st District                               9th District                               12th District

 

 

David P. Sokola                      Bryan Townsend                     Michael A. Barbieri                

State Senator                           State Senator                           State Representative

8th District                               11th District                             18th District

 

 

Paul S. Baumbach                   Gerald L. Brady                      William J. Carson

State Representative               State Representative               State Representative

23rd District                             4th District                               28th District

 

 

Earl G. Jaques Jr.                    James J. Johnson                     S. Quinton Johnson

State Representative               State Representative               State Representative

27th District                             16th District                             8th District

 

 

Helene M. Keeley                   John A. Kowalko Jr.               John L. Mitchell Jr.

State Representative               State Representative               State Representative

3rd District                               25th District                             13th District

 

 

Michael P. Mulrooney W. Charles Paradee                 Charles Potter Jr.

State Representative               State Representative               State Representative

17th District                             29th District                             1st District

 

 

Michael Ramone                     Bryon H. Short                       Kimberly A. Williams

State Representative               State Representative               State Representative

21st District                             7th District                               19th District

 

 

 

CC: The Honorable Thomas R. Carper, Senator, State of Delaware

        The Honorable Christopher A. Coons, Senator, State of Delaware