Monday, March 24, 2014

Local Agencies Have Limited Ability to Regulate Crude Oil Moved on Rail

The Contra Costa Times reports that "domestic oil harvesting has increased in recent years, most notably in North Dakota, where drillers use hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking,' to fracture rock and extract oil. As the haul has increased, more oil is coming by rail to California refineries for processing."  This increase in crude transported via rail has raised concerns by local officials and activists about the effectiveness of current safety regulations.

According to the article, "local officials say they may need to revisit the county's Industrial Safety Ordinance to see whether modifications should be made to ensure safety in dealing with Bakken crude, which is more volatile and susceptible to explosion than heavier crude blends."  Despite their efforts, little may be accomplished at the local level as the federal interstate commerce laws regulate rail cargo.  However, Governor Jerry Brown of California "proposed a significant strengthening of the state's ability to respond to emergency oil spills in the January 2014 budget."

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