Oregon's Senators: Oil Trains Need New Regulations

Aug 18, 2014

Oregon's U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley were both in Eugene on Monday. They led a forum on the Department of Transportation's proposed changes to oil train transport.

From left: Eugene Springfield Fire Chief Randall Groves, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, PHMSA Deputy Administrator Tim Butters.
Credit Karen Richards

Bakken shale oil production in the Dakotas has transformed railroad tank car movement across the west. Volumes have increased four thousand percent since 2008, according to the Association of American Railroads. Senator Ron Wyden says rules regarding safety and preparedness have not kept pace:

Wyden: "Oil and ethanol train accidents are on the rise. Oregon communities and others are being kept in the dark when they need information to protect public safety and the environment."

Wyden stresses he and Senator Merkley will continue to work to get emergency providers the tools they need. Current rules apply to oil shipments over one million gallons. Wyden and Merkley are fighting to lower that threshold and make the rules apply to flammable materials other than Bakken oil. All of the oil shipped through Lane County now comes from Canada, not the Bakken formation.

The comment period for the proposed changes ends September 30th.