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Garamendi Introduces Oil-By-Rail Safety Bill

January 13, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), a senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, introduced the “Crude by Rail Volatility Standard Act” (H.R.5553) with Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA13), Bill Foster (D-IL), Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), and Jamie Raskin (D-MD) as original cosponsors.

Every day we delay the implementation of a stronger safety standard for the transport of Bakken crude oil-by-rail, lives are at risk,” said Congressman Garamendi. “My bill simply requires oil companies to decrease the volatility to market levels, rather than carrying unstable products through communities. I am committed to enacting this legislation into law this year as part of the surface transportation reauthorization.”

The “Crude by Rail Volatility Standard Act” (H.R.5553) would establish a safety standard for the maximum volatility (i.e. pressurization) for crude oil and similar hazardous materials transported by rail. The legislation would require that all crude by rail in the United States adhere to the New York Mercantile Exchange’s (NYMEX) maximum Reid vapor pressure for crude oil futures contracts of 9.5 pounds per square inch. This existing industry standard would remain in place until the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration finalizes a regulation setting a national maximum volatility standard first announced in 2017. The then-Attorneys General for New York, California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, and Washington State petitioned the federal regulator to finalize this rule setting a maximum volatility standard for crude oil and other hazardous materials transported by rail, nationwide.

Congressman Garamendi has championed legislation since 2015 to implement a national crude by rail volatility standard following major crude-by-rail derailments in Virginia, West Virginia, Illinois, and Quebec. The tragic July 2013 derailment in Lac-Megantic, Quebec killed 47 people.