Pacific Northwest sustainability advocates pick up on ECP benefits

March 29, 2019

An article published March 28 on the website of the Sightline Institute follows up on an Associated Press report from over the winter about the Department of Transportation’s repeal of the Federal Railroad Administration’s electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brake rule for tanker cars.
In late December, the AP reported that the Trump administration did not consider in its calculations the most-common type of derailment.
In addition to the AP findings, writers Aven Frey and Eric de Place for the Seattle-based Sightline Institute, which advocates on sustainability and environmental issues in the Pacific Northwest, also said that “PHMSA and the FRA low-balled their predictions for oil train numbers, an assumption that tilted the analysis in favor of the industry.”
SMART Transportation Division has been in favor of the installation of ECP brakes on tanker cars, with National Legislative Director John Risch calling them “the safest, most advanced braking systems in the world.”
The Sightline Institute piece notes that the ECP rule’s repeal “put rail-side communities at substantial risk across the Northwest, particularly because we can expect to see oil train shipping to significantly increase again.”
In response to the repeal of the ECP rule, legislators in the region have taken note.
The Washington State Senate has passed legislation that requires crude oil to be transported by rail to be conditioned to meet a vapor standard that reduces the potential for explosive ignition.
Also, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican from Battle Ground, Wash., has twice introduced legislation that reinstates the ECP rule. The current version of the Oil and Flammable Material Rail Safety Act is H.R. 851 and was introduced in January.
Read the entire Sightline Institute article here.