Friday, January 25, 2013

House committee eyes rail safety, hazmat issues

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Reauthorized rail safety legislation the implementation of two new laws on pipeline safety and hazardous materials safety are on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's agenda in 2013, according to the committee's oversight plan released earlier this week.

The House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials plans to work on a bill to reauthorize the Federal Railroad Administration's safety programs, according to the committee's work plan. FRA's rail safety program was previously authorized by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA), which expires Sept. 30, the end of fiscal year 2013.

The safety program requires rail carriers to provide emergency escape breathing devices for crew members on trains carrying toxic-by-inhalation hazardous materials and requires FRA to develop a plan for implementing positive train control systems on train lines that transport toxic-by-inhalation materials.

The subcommittee also will oversee implementation of a pair of laws passed during the 112th Congress—the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011. These required the U.S. Department of Transportation to report to Congress on various aspects of pipeline safety, and the hazardous materials safety title of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), which reauthorized federal surface transportation programs for two years.

Said Railway Supply Institute Assistant Vice President Nicole Brewin, referring to the full committee and the two subcomittees, "We look forward to working with the new chairmen [Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., Rep. Jeff Denham R-Calif., and Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis.] on the outlined agenda specifically on MAP-21, PRIAA (Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008), and RSIA reauthorization." All these issues have a significant potential impact on the railway supply industry, Brewin said.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee oversight plan for the 113th Congress is available here.