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Railroads are not required to disclose detailed information on hazardous materials shipments to state and local officials. But multiple rail accidents involving crude in the past several months have put pressure on the industry and its regulators.
“All options are on the table when it comes to improving the safe transportation of crude oil,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement, “and today’s actions, the latest in a series that make up an expansive strategy, will ensure that communities are more informed and that companies are using the strongest possible tank cars.”
Last week, the same day of the Lynchburg derailment, the department sent a package of proposed regulations to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review.
The process can take at least 90 days, and until it’s complete, the details will not be made public.
For community and environmental activists who have been pushing for more aggressive action from the DOT, Wednesday’s announcement was a disappointment.
“Without a mandatory requirement and a strict time line, it doesn’t do the job,” said Phillip Musegaas, Hudson River program director for Riverkeeper, a river conservation group.
Lawmakers expressed some skepticism as well.
“I’m concerned that calls for action without clear guidelines won’t actually do much to improve safety,” said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.
Staff writer David Shaffer contributed to this report.