Two Democratic members of Congress from Illinois are pushing for stricter regulations on trains carrying ethanol and crude oil. At a roundtable discussion in Aurora, U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-Naperville) and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) heard the concerns local officials have about the amount of oil tank cars moving through larger cities in Illinois, and the potential damage that could be caused by a derailment similar to the fiery wreck outside Galena in March. Durbin said part of the answer is imposing a $175-per-car fee on oil and ethanol shipped in older tank cars as an incentive for railroads to phase them out in favor of newer models built under stricter safety standards. “Many railroads are complying, some are dragging their feet,” Durbin said. “People who get up and complain about government regulation, let me tell you, it’s government regulation that’s trying to keep these trains safe so the people who live in these communities are safe as well.” The money from the proposed fee would go to providing training for potential accidents, costs of cleanup, and hiring more railroad inspectors. Durbin said towns and cities where oil and ethanol is transported through need to get prepared to deal with an accident.
Click here for summary
“When we have a derailment, God forbid, how many crossings are going to be closed? What’s the access for our friends who work in the fire department or the police department?” Durbin said. Among Durbin and Foster’s other proposals are expanding the 40 miles per hour speed limit zones around larger urban areas. Foster said the new federal transportation and omnibus spending bills included provisions on rail safety, such as requiring the U.S. Department of Transportation to create a system where state emergency agencies will be kept informed of oil train shipments. The Illinois Railroad Association didn’t return a request for comment on Durbin and Foster’s proposals. The Association of American Railroads declined to comment on Durbin’s proposals specifically, but did say in a statement, ““America’s freight rail industry shares Senator Durbin’s commitment to safety as it is a 24/7 focus of railroads moving the nation’s economy. Safety is embedded in all aspects of the industry.”