California Legislators Propose Two Bills on Crude by Rail

Two measures have been introduced in the California legislature to respond to the growth of crude-by-rail volume in the state.

State Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) has introduced SB 1319, which would expand existing law regarding oil spills to cover inland waterways and direct the Governor to require the Administrator of the Office of Spill Prevention and Response to amend the California oil spill contingency plan to cover inland waterway spills, which would include any spills from railroads. 

Sen. Pavley told the LA Times, "We need to address the new and unique hazards of crude-by-rail transportation." On May 28, the State Senate voted 23-11 to approve the bill.

Meanwhile, Assemblyman Roger Dickinson’s (D-Sacramento) bill (AB 380) would require railroads to make quarterly reports of specified information regarding the transportation of hazardous materials and an emergency response plan to the California Office of Emergency Services and establish a response management communications center. Cal OES would disseminate relevant information from the reports and the emergency response plan to the state’s unified program agencies, although the reports and emergency response plans would be exempt from the California Public Records Act.

The risk of catastrophic injury to life and property by rail accident has grown dramatically, said Dickinson. It is essential that emergency response agencies have the information they need about crude oil cargo in order to minimize any damage from an accident, Dickinson added. On June 4, AB 380 passed the Senate Environmental Quality Committee.

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