Between the Lines: March 14

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Tragic Explosion In New York Highlights Need For Infrastructure Improvements

  Seven people are dead, five dozen are injured, and nine remain missing after a natural gas explosion rocked East Harlem yesterday morning. Tragically, that number will rise as the aftermath unfolds.

Yesterday’s tragic explosion in New York City is a terrible reminder of just how dangerous working in and around natural gas can be, of how crucial proper safety precautions are, and how important it is to report gas leaks in a timely manner.

Highway Funding Trajectory Worsening, DOT Warns

The Department of Transportation is worried that states will start slowing their highway and transit programs even before this summer when the Highway Trust Fund is slated to start running out of money.

DOT will start ratcheting back highway payments to states when the Fund balance goes below $4 billion, now projected to happen in July, but is concerned that the impact of the shortfall will show up even sooner, said Peter Rogoff, acting under secretary for policy.

Exxon seeks regulatory OK to restart part of Pegasus oil line

Exxon Mobil has sought permission from regulators to restart a Texas stretch of the Pegasus oil pipeline that it says was not affected by a line rupture in Arkansas in March 2013.

Exxon plans to restart operations on a 210-mile leg, running from Corsicana to Nederland, Texas no later than March 28, it said in a January filing to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

Missing Malaysia Airlines plane: Despite expected death toll we must remember air travel has never been safer

Today, as every day, close to one million passengers will step aboard Boeing 777s at dozens of airports worldwide. Unlike other days, though, many of those travellers may note with a shiver that they are flying on the make of aircraft that was lost in the early hours of this morning.

DOT Proposes Use of Electronic Logbooks to Improve Efficiency, Safety in Commercial Bus & Truck Industries

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced a proposal to require interstate commercial truck and bus companies to use Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) in their vehicles to improve compliance with the safety rules that govern the number of hours a driver can work.

The proposed rulemaking would significantly reduce the paperwork burden associated with hours-of-service recordkeeping for interstate truck and bus drivers – the largest in the federal government following tax-related filings – and improve the quality of logbook data.

Bernanke: Energy ‘a bright spot’ in recovering economy

The national oil and gas boom may have created a quarter of the jobs U.S. employers have added to payrolls since the economic downturn began six years ago, former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Friday.

Closing out the massive IHS CERAWeek energy conference in downtown Houston, Bernanke said energy production also has greatly improved the U.S. trade imbalance as exports of refined fuels rise, and it has boosted the nation’s competitive position in the world.

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