WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) and Congressman Ron Kind (WI-3) continued their push for improved rail and pipeline safety last night by introducing an amendment to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill that provides $500,000 in additional funding to the Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Their amendment was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives.
“Keeping our families and communities safe is a top priority of mine,” said Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “The derailment and explosion in Galena earlier this year and others across the nation have made clear the need to improve the safety of our rail and pipeline systems. I am proud to work with my friend and neighbor to the north Congressman Ron Kind on this effort to give our safety inspectors the tools they need to protect our communities from these deadly accidents.”
“Explosive increase in crude oil transport has led to increased rail traffic and an unprecedented rise in rail accidents—sometimes with fatal results. It is vital we give the safety inspectors who work to prevent these incidents the support and resources they need,” said Congressman Ron Kind. “Thank you to Congresswoman Bustos for partnering with me to ensure our safety inspectors have access to the tools they need to keep our communities safe.”
Earlier this week, Bustos and Kind partnered on a letter to the Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT) Anthony Foxx and the Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE) Ernest Moniz, urging them to work together to expedite the development of minimum volatility or stabilization standards for crude oil transported by rail following recent tanker car derailments in Illinois and across the country, including the derailment near Galena, Illinois in March.
Bustos and Kind have also advocated for increased training and resources for first responders by pushing for passage of Railroad Emergency Services Preparedness, Operational Needs, and Safety Evaluation (RESPONSE) Act, which was introduced by Kind earlier this year. It would create a subcommittee under FEMA’s National Advisory Council to bring together agencies, emergency responders, technical experts, and the private sector to review training, best practices, resources and unmet needs related to railroad incidents. The subcommittee would provide recommendations to Congress on emergency responder training and resource allocation, addressing quality of training, funding levels, emergency response plans and improving the flow of information to local first responders. It would also help develop a train incident database.