Energy & Environment

Industry files suit to stop new oil train rules


The oil industry is suing to stop a number of provisions in a suite of oil-train transportation rules issued by the Obama administration.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) said Tuesday that it filed the lawsuit in federal court Monday in an attempt to overturn those requirements it does not believe would improve the safety of crude oil transport by rail.

{mosads}“Improving on a 99.997 percent safety record requires data-driven efforts to prevent derailments with enhanced inspections and maintenance, upgrade the tank car fleet and educate first responders,” API spokesman Brian Straessle said in a statement.

“Our safety goal is zero incidents, so retrofit timelines, braking systems and other actions must all be based on facts and science to maximize the safety impact of this rule,” he said.

The Department of Transportation developed the rules to try to stem the tide of high-profile crude-by-rail disasters that have accompanied the domestic oil production renaissance.

While the end result was a suite of rules that were not as strong as environmentalists and safety advocates had hoped for, the oil and freight rail industries said they still went too far.

The API’s lawsuit aims to secure longer timelines to retrofit old tank cars, overturn the mandates for enhanced braking systems and loosen the operational restrictions on certain trains.

“These provisions are, either individually or in conjunction with each other, challenges as arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law, and/or in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations, or short of statutory right,” the API wrote in its complaint to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx anticipated some pushback from opponents and even potential lawsuits.

“Our history with rules is that, when challenged, the courts have historically focused on the area of challenge and not necessarily the entire rule. That remains to be seen,” Foxx said in a May 1 news conference, referring to potential challenges.

“I’m hopeful that the rail industry will accept this rule, will follow this rule and help America become a safer place as well as Canada, but we believe strongly that our rule will stand up,” he said.

Tags Anthony Foxx oil trains

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