WASHINGTON, D.C.–The US’ FY 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill has passed through the Senate Appropriations Committee with the inclusion of a deadline for a final rulemaking on rail tank car standards.
The Department of Transportation will be tasked with developing a final rule on tank car standards by Oct. 1. The bill passed the committee by a vote of 29-1, and it now heads to the full Senate, said American Shipper.
For overall funding, the bill calls for an $71.7 billion budget for DOT, $18.1 billion of which is discretionary. The 2014 bill allowed $17.7 billion in discretionary funds. The TIGER grant program will receive $550 million, which is $50 million below the 2014 level and far below the $9.5 billion in grant requests for 2014. The federal-aid highway program will stay at the 2014 funding level, $40.3 billion, and the Federal Aviation Administration is to receive $15.9 billion, an increase of $126 million compared to last year.
The industry has been waiting on a rule on tank-car design for some time. The DOT issued a pair of emergency orders last month regarding crude. The first required railroads operating any trains carrying more than 1 million gallons of Bakken crude to notify state officials if they are planning to bring the cargo into their state. The other notice urged Bakken shippers to use the safest tank-car designs available, but gave no indication of a pending rulemaking, said the release.
In addition to mandating a rule on tank-car standards, the bill calls for a “comprehensive plan” developed by carriers to be put into action during an oil spill. It also includes funding for new rail safety and hazardous materials inspectors, an expansion of automated track inspections and a Short Line Railroad Safety Institute.