“Bomb trains” don’t need safety upgrades, says Trump’s Department of Transportation

The U.S. Department of Transportation is reversing a rule that would have required railroads to install electronically controlled pneumatic brakes on trains carrying crude oil and other highly flammable liquids. The 2015 rule, part of the Obama administration’s response to a series of fiery derailments, aimed to improve train safety by swapping out conventional air-controlled brakes for ECP brakes, which deploy faster. But Trump’s DOT says the upgrade isn’t worth the cost. Though industry is cheering the decision, environmentalists and others who care about the safety of Americans who live near train tracks are reacting explosively. “Oil trains are rolling explosion hazards, and as we’ve seen all too many times—and all too recently in Mosier—it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ oil train derailments will occur,” Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley said, referring to a catastrophic 2016 derailment in his home state’s Columbia River Gorge. “Degrading oil train-safety requirements is a huge step backward and one that puts our land, homes, and lives at risk.”

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