Rep. Peter DeFazio Announces DOT Grant to Protect Oregon Communities from Hazardous Materials Accidents
Today, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded nearly $260,000 to the State of Oregon to develop or revise emergency plans and invest in emergency response training to deal with accidents involving the transportation of hazardous materials. The grant can also be used to investigate how much and how frequently hazardous materials are being transported through Oregon cities.
“For years, I have worked to increase safety standards for the transportation of hazardous materials and to help emergency responders prepare for accidents. We still have a lot of work to do to ensure that Oregon communities are sufficiently prepared to respond to a serious accident involving hazardous materials. I am very happy that the DOT will provide resources to help develop comprehensive emergency plans and train and protect emergency responders. I will continue to push the federal government and Congress to better protect our communities in the future,” said DeFazio.
Yesterday, the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced it was issuing $20.4 million in Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness grants to states, territories, and Native American tribes to enhance their ability to respond to hazardous materials transportation incidents. Oregon will be awarded $258,898 to fund additional emergency planning and training. The funding was authorized in the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act” (FAST Act), which passed Congress and was signed into law in December 2015. DeFazio was a key negotiator on the FAST Act, and secured critical safety provisions to better protect Oregon communities.
The full DOT grant announcement can be found here: https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/dot-announces-over-20-million-hazardous-materials-emergency-preparedness-grants-states.
BACKGROUND ON HAZARDOUS MATERIAL TRANSPORTATION
- In June 2016, Congress passed the bipartisan Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act (PIPES Act). As a key negotiator, DeFazio successfully secured critical reforms and new tools to protect communities across the country from serious accidents involving the transportation of oil and gas by pipeline.
- June 10, 2016--DeFazio and Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) urged the Department of Transportation to quickly finalize critical safety rules that will better protect communities and environmentally sensitive areas from catastrophic crude oil and ethanol train accidents. The letter was sent in response to a June 3rd oil train accident in Mosier, OR.
- December 4, 2015--The FAST Act was signed into law, this legislation requires railroads to provide advanced notification and information on high-hazard flammable trains to states. The legislation also includes provisions DeFazio championed to require thermal-protection for rail tank cars and require railroads to retrofit, replace and phase out 40,000 additional rail tank cars to prevent catastrophic spills in accidents.
- March 12, 2015--DeFazio sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting an examination of emergency response capabilities to handle crude oil transportation by rail. DeFazio expressed that he was concerned that emergency responders in these states, particularly in the most remote and environmentally sensitive areas, may not be sufficiently prepared to respond to a serious rail accident involving the transportation of crude oil, such as what happened in Lac-Megantic, Quebec; Casselton, North Dakota; or Lynchburg, Virginia. The study is currently underway.
- February 3, 2015 DeFazio sent a letter to DOT Inspector General Calvin L. Scovel, III requesting a full audit of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) pipeline and hazardous materials safety programs. The request was sent on the same day that DeFazio highlighted PHMSA’s failure to address longstanding pipeline and hazardous materials safety issues, including new design standards for DOT-111 tank cars, at a Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee hearing. The audit is underway.
- In January 2015, DeFazio sent a letter to DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, urging him to take immediate action to address rail tank car safety and other significant pipeline and hazardous materials safety hazards.