The Latest: US senator wants new look at oil trains rule
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Latest on the Trump administration’s miscalculation of safety benefits of electronic brakes for oil trains (all times local):
Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley says the U.S. Department of Transportation should conduct a new cost-benefit analysis of a canceled rule that would have required better brakes for trains hauling explosive fuels.
The Democratic lawmaker’s comments on Thursday came in response to an Associated Press finding that officials understated the potential benefits of the brakes by up to $117 million.
Railroads were required to begin installing electronic brakes under a 2015 rule prompted by a string of fiery derailments involving oil and ethanol shipments. The Trump administration canceled the rule in September, citing its high cost.
Administration officials acknowledged their analysis of the rule omitted potential damages that could have been avoided with the brakes. But they said it was unintentional and does not affect the repeal.
Supporters of more advanced brakes on trains hauling explosive fuels are pushing back against a Trump administration decision to scrap their mandatory use following the revelation that derailment risks were miscalculated.
A senior adviser to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Robert Duff, said Thursday that federal officials should reconsider the safety advantages of electronic brakes after The Associated Press found some benefits were ignored.
Railroads were required to begin installing the brakes under a 2015 rule prompted by a string of fiery derailments involving oil and ethanol shipments.
The AP found that when Trump administration killed the rule in September, it omitted up to $117 million in potential reduced damages from using the brakes.
Department of Transportation officials acknowledged the error but said it was unintentional and does not affect the repeal.
The Trump administration miscalculated potential damages from train derailments when it canceled an Obama-era rule requiring the installation of more advanced brakes by railroads hauling explosive fuels.
A government analysis used to justify the cancellation omitted up to $117 million in potential reduced damages from using electronic brakes. The error could stoke criticism from supporters of the rule.
Department of Transportation officials acknowledged the error after it was discovered by The Associated Press during a review of federal documents. Still, they said it was unintentional and would not have made a difference.
The brake rule was adopted under President Barack Obama following a string of fiery derailments of trains hauling oil and ethanol.
The railroad and oil industries have pushed to cancel the rule citing its high costs.