December 21, 2014

Budget bill sets Jan. deadline for rule on oil tank cars

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Hidden away in Congress’ big spending bill, designed to fund the federal government through FY 2015, are stern marching orders to the U.S. Department of Transportation: Deliver a final rule for new, safer oil tank car design standards by Jan. 15, 2015, and require that all rail carriers put in place comprehensive oil spill response [...]

Can oil price declines end railroads’ bull run?

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Crude oil hit its five year low price on Monday, Dec. 8, under pressure from growing production in the U.S. and the unwillingness of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to cut production. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, declined 4.3 percent to $63.05 per barrel and Brent crude, which reflects the global market, [...]

Oil trains, pipelines and tanker ships

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Everyone nowadays seems to either love or hate “fracking” for oil and natural gas in U.S. shale formations. But fracking enjoys an enviable safety record. After all, a large fraction of it is done a mile underground. Not much, if any, evidence of groundwater contamination has been found at fracking sites. Read the complete story [...]

Spending bill provisions for Amtrak, railroads

According to The Washington Post, a $1.01 trillion spending bill that will keep most of the federal government funded through September retains Amtrak’s current funding of $1.39 billion, the same amount it currently receives. It also provides $3 million to expand inspections along the roughly 14,000 miles of track used by trains hauling oil tankers. To view the [...]

Despite price drop, crude by rail remains big issue

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The drop in the price of oil since OPEC failed in its meeting last week to agree on production cuts has sparked speculation about whether production in North Dakota’s Bakken shale region will decline as some marginal drilling operations become financially less viable. Some market observers see the drop in the price of railroad stocks [...]

Crude-by-rail safety reports released in N.Y., Wash.

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The Washington Department of Ecology on Monday delivered a report to state legislators outlining key recommendations to improve public safety in response to the rapid increase of crude-by-rail shipments through the state. The Washington Legislature requested the study due to recent changes in how crude is transported through rail corridors and waterways. The “Marine and [...]

N.D. considers rules to make oil by rail safer

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North Dakota’s energy regulators are considering new rules to make the state’s “Bakken” crude oil, which has been involved in a number of explosive train crashes, safer to move by rail. Proposed standards announced Thursday by the state Department of Mineral Resources follow a series of fiery rail accidents over the last 18 months that [...]

New oil train safety rules divide rail industry

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Three days after an oil train derailed and exploded in 2013 in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, killing 47 people, Greg Saxton wandered through the disaster site inspecting tank cars. For Saxton, the damage was personal. Some of the tank cars were built by Greenbrier, an Oregon-based manufacturer where he’s chief engineer. Almost every car that derailed was [...]

Railroads press against proposals to slow oil trains

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U.S. railroads are rallying customers, including lumber and steel companies, to fight a government proposal to slow trains hauling crude oil. Urged by railroads, more than a dozen companies and business groups are warning regulators that cutting speeds to 40 mph from 50 mph would have a cascading effect, delaying other trains sharing the tracks [...]

Railroads sue California over new crude oil rules

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California’s two major railroad companies have filed suit in federal court challenging a state law requiring railroads to come up with an oil spill prevention and response plan. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Sacramento, contends federal laws largely prohibit states from imposing safety rules on railroads such as the ones [...]