"Long before this month’s fiery derailment, railroad industry leaders battled regulations meant to boost freight train safety, including plans to bolster some of the very same tank cars that ruptured and released chemicals in eastern Ohio.
Norfolk Southern Corp. joined in fighting proposed speed limits and brake system requirements spawned by a series of high-profile accidents, including a lethal 2005 collision involving one of the operator’s own trains.
The intense lobbying campaign — which unfolded over years of direct appeals to lawmakers, regulators and White House officials — underscores the industry’s political sway in Washington and illustrates the challenge now facing Congress and the Biden administration as they vow a new crackdown.
Our experience is that “the rail industry pushes back hard on both safety and public disclosure rules — and keeps that opposition up long after the public scrutiny of tragic accidents abates,” said Kristen Boyles, managing attorney for the environmental group Earthjustice. “There should be a renewed push for safer trains and safer rail cars following the disaster in Ohio, and that pressure will need to be applied for as long as it takes to get new safety requirements and regulations in place.”"
Jennifer A. Dlouhy and Ari Natter report for Bloomberg Green February 22, 2023.