BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. senators from six states on Thursday proposed that the government charge companies a special fee to ship oil, ethanol and other flammable liquids in older railroad tank cars that have been involved in fiery explosions.
The proposal would be paired with tax breaks for new tank cars built to better withstand derailments. Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon told The Associated Press the intent is to offer "market-based" incentives for companies to improve safety.
WASHINGTON (AP) — An emergency order requiring trains hauling crude oil and other flammable liquids to slow down as they pass through urban areas and a series of other steps to improve the safety were announced Friday by the Department of Transportation.
The Obama administration has been under intense pressure from members of Congress as well as state and local officials to ensure the safety of oil trains that traverse the country after leaving the Bakken region of North Dakota. To get to refineries on the East and West coasts and the Gulf of Mexico, oil shipments travel through more than 400 counties, including major metropolitan areas such as Philadelphia, Seattle, Chicago, Newark and dozens of other cities.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency used a fictional oil train derailment in the New York area to help local firefighters and others prepare for disaster when they staged an exercise last month, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Nearly five years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Interior Department on Monday proposed a long-awaited rule to improve well control at offshore oil and gas drilling sites by improving standards for blowout preventers, the equipment that failed during the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill.
The proposal would enforce use of the latest industry standard for blowout preventers, including double-shear rams used to more effectively cut and seal pipes during blowouts; boost third-party oversight of the equipment; and require real-time monitoring of offshore drilling operations.
The proposed rule would also aim to improve well control through tougher cementing guidelines for wells and the use of centralization technology to maintain well structure.
“These well-control regulations seek to better protect human lives and the environment from offshore oil spills by comprehensively addressing the full range of systems, equipment and processes involved in well-control operations," Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told reporters on a call.
Even as crude oil train derailments stay in the headlines, lawmakers eager to push bills to boost crude-by-rail safety ought to step back and let federal agencies do their job, a former administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration says.
“I think the federal agencies that are responsible for hazardous material safety have about all the authority and tools they need to have,” Brigham McCown told EnergyGuardian in an interview.
“They would be more effective, frankly, if Congress would leave them alone and allow them to be the regulators. They’re the experts, not the Hill," he added.
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Fuel-hauling tank cars need retrofits to prevent more explosive train wrecks — and the public can't wait another decade for the improvements as has been suggested by industry, U.S. safety officials said.
The National Transportation Safety Board issued a series of recommendations Monday after a spate of fiery accidents revealed shortcomings in voluntary industry standards for cars hauling oil, ethanol and other flammable liquids.
The National Transportation Safety Board is asking the rail industry to move more quickly - on an "aggressive schedule" - to come up with safer oil tankers and find other ways to make oil-by-rail less dangerous, Reuters reports.
The three Democrats willing to join Senate Republicans in the fight against the new water rule finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers won’t give the GOP the two-thirds majority needed for legislation to block it, The Hill reports.
Shortcomings in Shell Oil Co.’s plan to tow the Kuluk drilling rig across the stormy Gulf of Alaska led to its grounding in 2012, according to a report from the National Transportation Safety Board, FuelFix reports.
Gov. Bill Walker, I-Alaska, visited Seattle to tour an Arctic drilling rig parked there, and then met privately with his Washington counterpart, Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, to challenge the state’s opposition to Arctic drilling, The Associated Press reports.
Shell appears unfazed by the latest opposition in Seattle to its Arctic drilling fleet: A decision by King County to deny the ships a permit to discharge waste water into the regional sewer system, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports.
Increased environmental regulation, lower natural gas prices and reduced demand as a result of economic problems were cited as reasons why CanAm subsidiary Birmingham Coal & Coke filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Wednesday, Platts reports.
Larger than expected declines in crude and gasoline supplies helped support oil prices Thursday. U.S. benchmark crude gained 17 cents to settle at $57.68 a barrel on the Nymex, while in London, Brent ended 52 cents higher at $62.58, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The biggest change stemming from Mexico’s energy reform might be more integration between U.S. electricity utilities with their counterparts south of the border, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said at a conference Wednesday, Bloomberg reports.
Fracking ban supporters continue to look into possible legal challenges to a new state law blocking Denton, Texas from interfering with drilling, while protesters have been picketing a well site, the Denton Record-Chronicle reports.