Oil train rules move to White House review

Regulators are one step closer to adopting new standards for oil trains that Congress mandated last year.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) sent the standards to the White House Office of Management and Budget for its final review, it said Wednesday.

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The Obama administration is hoping to make the standards final and unveil them publicly by October.

The PHMSA and Federal Railroad Administration jointly wrote comprehensive standards for oil trains last year, including new standards for the tank cars and operational rules such as speed restrictions in certain areas.

Transportation of oil by rail has increased dramatically, as have derailments and other disasters.

In last year’s highway bill, known as the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation, or FAST Act, Congress told the administration to make some tweaks to the oil train regulation.

The changes include a new, faster timeline for phasing out old rail cars from oil use, new construction standards for cars retrofitted to comply with new standards and a requirement that all cars in certain trains meet the mandates, not just the ones carrying oil.

Since Congress asked the PHMSA to put out the new rule immediately, the agency skipped the usual process of proposing a regulation and gathering public input before making it final.