The Canadian and U.S. governments have introduced sweeping new rules to make shipping crude by rail safer.
- Both countries will phase in sturdier rail cars for crude on a staggered schedule, starting with the oldest and most accident-prone cars that must be replaced within three to four years.
- New tank cars must be built with thicker sides and stronger valves to prevent leaks, while older cars must be retrofitted or replaced to meet new standards, with a full transition by May 2025. Tougher brakes for larger cars must also be implemented by 2021.
- New production areas, such as the Bakken area and the Eagle Ford shale area in Texas, often lack pipelines to link to refineries, resulting in a 4,000 percent increase in shipments of crude by rail since 2009.
Environmental and public interest groups are moving their challenges to the Transportation Department rules governing crude-by-rail shipments to the D.C. appeals court. At least two railroad and oil industry challenges have already been filed in the D.C. Circuit. The lawsuits center on the final PHMSA rule published May 8th that lays out tank car and operational control standards for transportation of large shipments of flammable liquids, including crude oil, by rail. Groups have taken issue with several provisions of the final rule, including brake requirements and speed restrictions.