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WASHINGTON (Aug. 12, 2016) – A broad coalition of shipper organizations petitioned the Department of Transportation (DOT) today to adopt rules reinforcing the Department’s authority to set uniform national tank car standards for ensuring the safety of rail shipments. 

The petition comes as the Association of American Railroads (AAR) continues, through its majority control of the Tank Car Committee (TCC), to try to impose tank car requirements that are at odds with federal regulations and, in some cases, have been specifically considered and rejected by DOT. While the TCC serves an important role in developing consensus recommendations for improving tank car safety, it is DOT’s role to establish safety standards. 

If adopted, the petition would prevent the AAR or any party from imposing industry-wide requirements that are different from federal regulations, while allowing industry stakeholders to continue to work collaboratively on enhancing tank car safety through the TCC.

The American Chemistry Council, American Petroleum Institute, The Fertilizer Institute, The Chlorine Institute, The Sulphur Institute, U.S. Clay Producers Traffic Association, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates, National Association of Chemical Distributors and National Industrial Transportation League signed onto the joint petition. The shipper group issued the following statement explaining the purpose of the petition:

“Our member companies are committed to the safe transportation of our goods, which are a vital part of the nation’s economy. By working with the federal government and the railroads, we have been able to reduce the number of accidents and their impacts. When it comes to safety, everyone has an important role to play. Federal law mandates that DOT, and DOT alone, regulate railroad safety. 

“Our petition simply requests that DOT adopt clear rules that ensure that the responsibility for establishing tank car specifications remains in the hands of federal regulators.

“The TCC was created to develop consensus on tank car standards and advise regulators for tank car specifications that meet DOT regulations. Allowing the TCC to set requirements outside of the federal rulemaking process would set a chilling and damaging precedent that would greatly diminish the DOT’s authority to regulate safety. Tank car standards must be developed with the due process protection, public interest considerations and support of science-based standards required for DOT safety rules.”

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