Rockefeller: Crude Oil Industry Commitment to Safety Seems to be "Lip Service"

April 7, 2014

JDR Head ShotWASHINGTON, D.C.—Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV today released the following statement after the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) reported that the crude oil industry has not kept its promise to share testing data with the agency. Last month, the American Petroleum Institute (API) pledged to Congress to share this data with the Department of Transportation as part of the agency's work to ensure the safe transportation of crude.

“Just last month before the Commerce Committee, the crude oil industry assured us they were focused on safety and willing to work on this issue. Since then, I’ve seen nothing to convince me this was more than just lip service. Congress and DOT have been patiently waiting for industry to share the data necessary to improve the safety of shipping crude – and I see no justifiable reason for the delay. While the economic benefits of shipping crude by rail may be immense, the safety shortcomings can become horrific disasters and heartbreaking tragedies as we saw in Lac Megantic and North Dakota. Industry must step up to provide the highest level of safety to the millions of people whose communities these freight trains travel through every day. And I intend to make sure this happens.”


The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security held a hearing on March 6, 2014 titled, “Enhancing Our Rail Safety: Current Challenges for Passenger and Freight Rail.” The hearing examined the current state of safety on the nation’s passenger and freight rail networks, including a discussion of recent high-profile rail accidents, positive train control implementation, and other key safety challenges. Witnesses who testified at the hearing included PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman; Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo; and, Prentiss Searles, Group Director of Downstream and Industry Operations at API.