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API welcomes release of U.S. & Canadian rail rules

Brian Straessle | 202.682.8114 |

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2015 – New regulations released today by the U.S. and Canada for the shipment of flammable liquids by rail should be carefully examined to ensure each element adds to the overall safety of the North American freight rail network.

“As we review these rules, the key question is whether science and data show each change will make a meaningful improvement to safety,” said API President and CEO Jack Gerard. “A thoughtful, comprehensive and data-driven safety approach is critical to improving on the 99.997 percent safety record of freight rail to reach our goal of zero accidents.

“Tank cars and the industry’s work to educate first responders are two elements of the bigger picture. Accident investigations consistently show that more must also be done to prevent derailments by enhancing the inspection and maintenance of train tracks, axles and other railroad equipment.

The inclusion of a requirement for electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes will add to the artificial constraints created by a timeline for retrofitting the existing tank car fleet that does not fully account for limited shop capacity available to complete the work.

“The safety impact of ECP brakes is marginal at best,” said Gerard. “It is concerning that regulators did not select one of several alternative braking technologies that have much clearer benefits for safety.”

“We support upgrades to the tank car fleet and want them completed as quickly as realistically possible. The railcar manufacturing industry’s own calculations show it does not have the shop capacity to meet the retrofit timeline announced today, which will lead to shortages that impact consumers and the broader economy.”

API also noted the importance of harmony between the U.S. and Canadian regulations. Because the two countries’ rail networks are closely integrated, any areas of disagreement could disrupt the flow of every commodity and good shipped by rail in North America.

API represents all segments of America’s oil and natural gas industry. Its more than 625 members produce, process, and distribute most of the nation’s energy. The industry also supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy.