Federal agencies drag feet on oil train lobbying, group says

ForestEthics (via Akron Beacon Journal) | March 18, 2015 | Press Release

Federal Agencies Drag Feet on Oil Train Lobbying: Groups Appeal Delay on Freedom of Information Request

[Bellingham, WA] -- ForestEthics today filed formal appeals with federal agencies that have refused to provide records on oil and rail industry lobbying on new oil train safety rules. In January five groups filed FOIAs requesting correspondence between federal officials and 97 named oil and rail lobbyists, including six former members of US Congress. Under FOIA rules the agencies had 20 days to provide the information. Today, two months later, the agencies remains unresponsive and the group filed formal FOIA appeal letters.

On March 6, while a derailed oil train burned for the second day in Illinois, rail lobbyists, met with the White House Office of Management and Budget. Four of the lobbyists named in the FOIA attended the OMB meeting: Rollin Bredenberg (BNSF), Edward Hamberger (AAR), Gregory Fox, (BNSF), and Michael Rush, (AAR).

“The oil and rail industry is going all in on expensive lobbyists to weaken new rail safety rules,” says Ross Hammond, ForestEthics campaign director. “Last Friday about 20 of K Street’s finest went to the White House to explain why they don’t want better brakes and speed limits for oil trains. Meanwhile, we’ve seen six oil train derailments in the past month, three of those in West Virginia, Illinois and Ontario included massive explosions.”

“Explosive crude oil is too dangerous to move by train,” says Hammond. “It turns out that tar sands diluted bitumen is very likely just as explosive as Bakken crude. In Ontario last week tank cars exploded in arctic temperatures, probably because of the light diluents mixed into the heavy toxic Alberta crude. The administration needs to open up the books on their discussions with all those industry lobbyists. Though it might be hard for safety officials to hear over the din of all these lobbyists, the facts on these trains speak loud and clear.”

The original Freedom of Information Act requests filed by ForestEthics,Communities for a Better Environment, Ezra Prentice Homes Tenants Association (Albany, NY), and Citizens Acting or Rail Safety (La Crosse, WI) name 97 individual lobbyists from the American Petroleum Institute, Association of American Railroads and specific oil and rail companies, including Chevron, Tesoro, and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF). Among the lobbyists named are six former members of Congress: Trent Lott, Vin Weber, John Breaux, Steve LaTourette, Max Sandlin and Bill Lipinski.

Government agencies and officials covered by this FOIA request are US Department of Transportation, National Transportation Safety Board, Surface Transportation Board, Federal Railroad Administration, and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

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ForestEthics demands that corporations and government protect community health, the climate, and our wild places. Do you live in the blast zone? ForestEthics calculates that 25 million Americans live in the mile-wide oil train fire evacuation zone. www.ForestEthics.org

http://www.ohio.com/blogs/drilling/ohio-utica-shale-1.291290/federal-agencies-drag-feet-on-oil-train-lobbying-group-says-1.575864

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@PAUSEnergy tweeted this page. 2015-03-21 01:05:53 -0400
PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy posted about Federal agencies drag feet on oil train lobbying, group says on PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy's Facebook page 2015-03-21 01:05:53 -0400
Federal agencies drag feet on oil train lobbying, group says
PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy
PAUSE is a grassroots group of individuals who have come together to promote safe, sustainable energy and fight for environmental justice. We engage the greater public to stop the fossil fuel industry’s assault on the people of Albany and our environment.