Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 8, 2015

Contacts:  Maggie Caldwell, Earthjustice, (415) 217-2084,
Jared Margolis, Center for Biological Diversity, (971) 717-6404,

Cities, Conservation Groups Seek Notification on Explosive Oil Train Traffic

Coalition Appeals Tank-car Rule That Keeps Communities, Emergency Responders in the Dark

SEATTLE— A coalition of municipalities, Riverkeeper groups and conservation organizations has challenged the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) over emergency responder and public notification provisions in the department’s oil tank car safety rule.

The groups’ administrative appeal, filed June 5, asks the DOT to modify the final rule to keep previous notification requirements in place and eliminate provisions that make it difficult for emergency responders to gather information on oil trains rumbling through their communities.

After the DOT issued the final oil tank car rule, many people and organizations, including eight U.S. Senators, criticized the department for pulling back from a 2014 emergency order that gave oil train information to emergency workers and the public. After receiving criticism for decreasing public notification, the DOT issued a public statement on May 28 keeping the prior 2014 emergency order in place and stating that the department intended to stand by its prior notification requirements.

The new appeal was filed by Earthjustice; the village of Barrington, Illinois; the city of Aurora, Illinois; Sierra Club; ForestEthics; Waterkeeper Alliance; Hudson Riverkeeper; Washington Environmental Council; Friends of the Columbia Gorge; Spokane Riverkeeper; the Center for Biological Diversity; and Scenic Hudson.

The appeal asks the DOT to codify the 2014 emergency order notification provisions. It also asks the transportation department to expand those provisions to cover all hazardous flammable liquids, not just Bakken crude oil, and to eliminate provisions and language in the final rule that keep train route information secret from state and local emergency response centers.

“The DOT has repeatedly stated that emergency responders — the people who will jump into action to clean-up a derailment, explosion, or oil spill — need more information, not less,” said Earthjustice attorney Kristen Boyles. “The DOT’s final rule is at odds with its own findings; more confusion and uncertainty is the last thing we need when dealing with these explosive oil trains.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Earthjustice, the nation’s premier nonprofit environmental law organization, wields the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change.
Because the earth needs a good lawyer.

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