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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sen. Baldwin calls for conference committee to take action on rail safety reforms

WASHINGTON, D.C. -  As U.S. House and Senate negotiators get to work on a long-term federal transportation compromise, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin is calling on the House and Senate conference committee to include several oil train provisions she has championed to increase safety and transparency along Wisconsins oil train routes. 

Just recently two trains carrying hazardous materials derailed in Wisconsin, making it clear that reforms are needed now more than ever

“I have been sounding the alarm for two years on the need to put in place strong rail safety reforms. These two train derailments in Wisconsin are more evidence why Congress needs to take action on the reforms I have proposed,said Senator Baldwin. I am calling on the House and Senate conference committee to include the reforms I have proposed in the final transportation bill. We need to put in place rail reforms that provide safety, transparency, and better communication between the railroads and local first responders and communities.

In July, the Senate passed bipartisan federal transportation legislation that included Senator Baldwins rail safety reforms. However, the House of Representatives has failed to act on the rail safety reforms. The House recently passed a long term transportation bill but it didn't include the rail safety measures that passed the Senate 65-34.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate are now working in a conference committee on a long-term federal transportation compromise.
Wisconsin first responders should be applauded for their reaction to these derailments but railroad companies need to do more to strengthen communication with local communities before an accident occurs. We also need to require railroads to have adequate resources in place to respond to accidents that cause environmental damage. My reforms would address both these issues, said Senator Baldwin. I was proud that the Senate passed rail safety reforms in July but I am disappointed that the House did not. The House and Senate conference committee now has an opportunity to take action to advance rail safety reform and they need to seize that opportunity.

The Senates six-year transportation funding extension legislation included several provisions championed by Senator Baldwin, aimed at increasing safety and transparency along Wisconsins oil train routes.

Oil tanker car passing through Prescott. Photo by Jack Hoschette.

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