U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) led a letter from 16 senators, calling on the Senate Appropriations Committee to support new investment and resources for a Safe Transportation of Energy Products Fund to address existing and emerging issues related to the transportation of Bakken crude and other energy products. The Senators also called for increased investment for inspection personnel.
Cantwell and Heitkamp were joined by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Angus King (I-ME), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Al Franken (D-MN), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chris Coons (D-DE), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and John Walsh (D-MT).
“We urge you to support new funding for a Safe Transportation of Energy Products Fund, while also making needed investments to increase Federal Railroad Administration and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration inspection personnel,” the Senators wrote. “The rail system in the United States has seen a 6,000 percent increase in crude on rail since 2007 driven in large part by remarkable increases in energy development from the Bakken Formation in North Dakota and Montana. In light of several tragic accidents involving crude-by-rail trains – including the most recent derailment and explosion of tanker cars carrying crude oil near Casselton, North Dakota – communities stretching across our country from the Midwest to coastal ports and refineries are rightly concerned about the safe movement of these combustible products.”
A Safe Transportation of Energy Products Fund was proposed by President Barack Obama this year in his fiscal year 2015 budget request for U.S. Department of Transportation. The flexible fund is intended to address current and emerging safety issues related to the transportation of combustible energy products like Bakken Crude.