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North Dakota crash highlights lack of progress on oil train safety in Minnesota

Originally posted on MinnPost.

Repercussions from yesterday’s oil train derailment in North Dakota. Don Davis of the Forum News Service reports, “A North Dakota oil train derailment reinforces the fact that Minnesota legislators have a week and a half left in their 2015 session but have not settled on what they would do to improve rail safety. … ‘I still believe the railroads are the best source to determine,’ what needs to happen, [House Transportation Chairman Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing] said, and legislators ‘do not have that expertise. We will end up with something this year,’ to improve rail safety, Kelly promised, with railroad cooperation.” In other words, let’s let the market decide.

WCCO-TV’s Pat Kessler says, “Republicans are resisting the governor’s call for a major new tax on railroads to improve rail crossing safety. They say it’s not related to derailments. ‘The problem is [derailments are] not happening at rail grade crossings,’ Kelly said. ‘They’re happening in North Dakota, outside the towns and rail grade crossings.’”

For MPR, Tom Scheck and Dan Gunderson say, “Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a new standard for oil tank cars that includes a thicker metal housing, improved braking and better pressure relief valves. Cars hauling Bakken Crude from western North Dakota will need to meet the new standard in five years. But new tank cars won’t solve the problem, said Brigham McCown, a former federal pipeline safety administrator who runs a Washington, D.C., nonprofit studying infrastructure policy. McCown says railroads are spending record amounts on capital improvements, but much more could be done with sensor technology to prevent rail accidents. He also called for more inspectors and greater oversight of railroads.”

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