It was widely misreported in media outlets (including the WatchDog, we note apologetically), that new federal rules issued May 1, 2015, reimposed secrecy on the routing of explosive oil trains through U.S. cities and towns. It's not that simple.
In reality, the mandate for disclosure of oil train information set by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in a May 2014 emergency order still exists. But getting that information will be harder — and a battle that must be fought by reporters and public safety advocates on a state-by-state basis.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a notice May 28, 2015, saying the 2014 notification requirements were still in effect (however uneven their implementation actually was). Sarah Feinberg, the Obama administration's nominee to head the FRA, said the same thing at the Investigative Reporters and Editors meeting in Philadelphia June 6.
You can find an explanation of the complexities in a report by Jacob Donnelly of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
- "Department of Transportation To Continue Mandating Oil Train Disclosures, But States Vary Widely on Requirements," Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, June 5, 2015, by Jacob Donnelly.
- "PHMSA Notice Regarding Emergency Response Notifications for Shipments of Petroleum Crude Oil by Rail," Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, May 28, 2015.
- Previous Story: WatchDog of May 6, 2015.