Federal regulators have been working to update guidelines on oil rail transportation, looking to reduce the risk of serious incidents. The industry itself has seen some major changes in recent times, with new types of oil being extracted in large quantities in states that are not traditional crude producers. The Department of Transportation (DoT) now wants to do away with DOT-111 rail cars, which make up about 65 percent of the nation's fleet.
The DoT says newer designs can prevent major disasters in case of derailment. As this blog reported, the American Petroleum Institute (API) asked for more than the originally stipulated two years to carry out the change. But some companies in the oil industry are now publicly agreeing with the DoT that the DOT-111 models should be phased out as soon as possible.
Among those are The Greenbrier Companies, whose cars were involved in the deadly Lac-Mégantic derailment last year. That train met all Association of American Railroads regulations that were in place at the time.
"If you don't set an aggressive timeline, you won't see improvements as quickly as the current safety demands require," said Greenbrier spokesman Jack Isselmann. "We've been frankly just perplexed and confused by the resistance."
The API has also expressed concern that the cost of substituting the new cars could double if the proposed next phase of the Keystone Pipeline is not built. The fourth phase of the pipeline that currently links the Canadian province of Alberta with the Gulf of Mexico is on hold due to environmental concerns, and if it were canceled the demand for rail transportation would skyrocket. Authorities and businesses hope to reach an agreement by the end of the year.