Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 20, 2014

Posts in "Environment"

July 28, 2014

Week’s Transportation Highlight Will Be Senate Passage of Highway Funding Bill

Months of hand-wringing, anguished warnings, and legislative maneuvering culminate in the next five days, as the Senate prepares to pass a bill to refill the Highway Trust Fund and avert what Democratic leaders were calling “the transportation equivalent of a government shutdown.”

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July 25, 2014

Toomey Would Skip Most Environmental Reviews in Post-Disaster Rebuilding

When the Senate takes up a bill next week to refill the Highway Trust Fund, it will get a chance to debate an amendment offered by Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey that would speed up construction of transportation infrastructure after natural disasters.

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July 23, 2014

Much-Anticipated Rail Shipping Rule for Oil Is Unveiled

Ending months of waiting by industry groups and local officials, the Department of Transportation on Wednesday issued its proposed rulemaking on rail shipments of flammable materials, including crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken shale.

Among other steps, the department would phase out within two years older tank cars for the shipment of certain types of flammable liquids, including most Bakken crude oil, unless the tank cars were retrofitted to comply with new design standards.

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July 22, 2014

Greg Saxton of the Greenbrier Companies on the Need for Safer Rail Tank Cars

In an opinion piece for Roll Call, Greg Saxton, chief engineer for The Greenbrier Companies, a leading railroad industry supplier, argues that the Transportation Department ought to require more robust tank car designs given the risks of explosions and oil spills as newly abundant domestic crude oil is shipped around the country to refineries and terminals.

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By Tom Curry Posted at 4 p.m.
Environment, Rail

July 15, 2014

All-Biofuels Flights Possible, but Airlines’ Strategy Is More ‘All of the Above’

The U.S. airline industry has made a commitment to reduce emissions by moving to using biofuels to supplement and perhaps eventually replace petroleum-based jet fuel.

The industry — which accounts for 2 percent of man-made carbon dioxide emissions in this country — has committed to “carbon neutral growth” from 2020 onward. That means after 2020 finding ways to offset emissions even as the airline industry flies more miles and serves a bigger population.

So will you be flying from Los Angeles to New York on a biofueled flight in the next 20 years?

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July 14, 2014

Your Gasoline Prices Are Too Low, International Energy Agency Chief Tells Americans

The head of the International Energy Agency chided the United States on Monday for having gasoline prices that are, in her view, too low.

Speaking at the conference of the U.S. Energy Information Administration in Washington, Maria van der Hoeven, a former Dutch minister of economic affairs, brought up the price of U.S. gasoline in the context of fuel subsidies in countries such as Egypt, Indonesia, and the North African nations.

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A Crowded Week Ahead for Transportation Advocates and Policymakers

The nation’s capital will be busy with transportation events this week:

On Monday, the Energy Department’s Energy Information Agency starts its annual conference. Among the speakers will be the head of a company controversially involved in rail shipments of Bakken crude oil from North Dakota, Global Partners president and CEO Eric Slifka.

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July 11, 2014

Bakken Oil Shipment Rule: Industry Representatives Meet With OMB

The review of a rule governing rail shipment of Bakken crude oil from North Dakota continued this week at the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, with a meeting between Obama administration officials and representatives from the oil industry.

The proposed rule – formally called “Enhanced Tank Car Standards and Operational Controls for High-Hazard Flammable Trains” – comes after a series of accidents and derailments involving Bakken oil, including one a year ago in Lac-Megantic, Quebec in which 47 people were killed in a fiery explosion.

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By Tom Curry Posted at 12:08 p.m.
Environment, Rail

July 7, 2014

Highway Trust Fund Talks, Hearing on Outer Continental Shelf, and ‘Intelligent Compaction’ on Week’s Agenda

This week the biggest event in transportation policy could come from the chairmen of the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee if they reach agreement on revenue-raising measures to refill the Highway Trust Fund until the end of the year, or at least until after Election Day.

When we left this drama on June 26, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Ron Wyden, D –Ore., suspended his committee’s markup of a bill to provide new financing for the fund while he and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., tried to find common ground.

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July 2, 2014

As Hurricane Season Starts, Is New York Ready for Another Sandy?

When you think of severe storms and transportation, you think of Superstorm Sandy on Oct. 29, 2012, and its brutal impact on New York and New Jersey. Not only did 43 people in New York City die in the storm (mostly by drowning) but Sandy crippled the nation’s biggest mass transit system.

The city has had nearly two years to make improvements. So, with 2014′s first tropical storm, Arthur, preparing to move up the East Coast, it seems like a good time to ask whether New York’s subway system is flood-proof enough to withstand another Sandy-magnitude storm?

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July 1, 2014

Rule on Crude-by-Rail Shipments Is Priority Over Hazmat Fee, Foxx Says

489784343 445x295 Rule on Crude by Rail Shipments Is Priority Over Hazmat Fee, Foxx Says

Foxx. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)


Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says he won’t immediately push Congress to enact a proposal offered by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other mayors for a federal fee to be imposed on shipments of hazardous materials passing through cities.

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By Tom Curry Posted at 12:33 p.m.
Environment, Rail

June 30, 2014

Towns Can Ban Fracking, Top New York Court Rules

New York State’s highest court ruled Monday that state law does not supersede local towns’ “home rule” authority to outlaw hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

It’s a decision that has implications for the continued expansion of domestic natural gas supplies — which in turn affect economic development and transportation, from trucking to rail to shipping.

The two towns involved in Monday’s decision, Dryden and Middlefield, banned fracking in 2011.

The town boards “both studied the issue and acted within their home rule powers in determining that gas drilling would permanently alter and adversely affect the deliberately cultivated, small-town character of their communities,” the New York State Court of Appeals said in its decision.

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Crude by Rail: Industries Await Regulation That Will Affect Bakken Shipments

173089480 445x296 Crude by Rail: Industries Await Regulation That Will Affect Bakken Shipments

The one-year anniversary of the Lac Mégantic, Quebec, crash is Sunday. (François Laplante-Delagrave/AFP/Getty Images)

Amid a boom in rail shipments of crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken formation, and after a series of fiery accidents, oil companies, railroads, and people living in communities along rail lines are waiting for an Obama administration rule likely to have a big impact on the crude-by-rail business.

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By Tom Curry Posted at 9:35 a.m.
Environment, Rail

June 27, 2014

California High-Speed Rail Project Takes a Step Forward (on Paper, at Least)

The Federal Railroad Administration says it has issued a Record of Decision for the 114-mile Fresno to Bakersfield section of California’s High-Speed Train System.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx called the decision “a major step forward, both for the State of California and for High Performance rail in the U.S.”

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By Tom Curry Posted at 5:29 p.m.
Budget, Environment, Rail

June 26, 2014

Prospects for Highway Trust Fund Deal Brighter After Wyden Alters Revenue Package

After a sour reaction from Republicans to Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden’s first proposal to bolster the Highway Trust Fund, prospects for a deal looked better Thursday after the Oregon Democrat offered a modified plan that dropped his idea of raising heavy vehicle use taxes by $1.3 billion.

Wyden’s revised plan also added a provision that would shift to the highway trust fund $750 million from a fund intended to deal with leaking underground fuel tanks, CQ’s Joanna Anderson reported.

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