State Involvement: Governor Brown's train safety plans

Published 02/11 2014 04:32PM

Updated 02/11 2014 05:09PM

Proposed Crude by Rail Projects
Proposed Crude by Rail Projects
With the possibility of transportation of crude oil by rail into Kern County increasing, Governor Jerry Brown is taking steps to ensure safety.

In January the Governor revealed his budget, hoping to increase the budget of the state Office of Oil and Spill Prevention and Response by $6.7 million and 38 staff members "to address the increase risk of inland oil spills."

This 245-member unit is part of the California Departmen to Fish and Wildlife. To fund the expansion the Governor plans to collect a 6.5 cent fee per barrel of all crude shipped to refineries. Currently the fee only applies to marine shipments.

There is no plan however to increase funding for the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) who inspects rail in the state. However the CPUC had this to say about rail safety.

"Regarding what the CPUC does to minimize risks of rail accidents, the CPUC has approximately 50 inspectors who inspect railroads for non-compliance with federal and state rail safety regulations," said Chris Chow, spokesperson for the CPUC. "The regulations are too numerous to list, but the federal ones can be found at Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 200 series, and the state regulations can be found on our website under General Orders."

"There are others, such as the regulation for high-incidence areas, which are covered by single CPUC Decisions. The CPUC also looks for hazards that aren't addressed by regulations and assess them, and acts to mitigate or eliminate them, " said Chow. "As transportation of oil by rail increases, the CPUC is meeting with railroads, conducting on-site surveillance and conducting inspections, in order to minimize risks."

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