Federal regulators with the U.S. Department of Transportation are delaying the release of final regulations for older freight-rail tank cars transporting ethanol and crude oil.
The rules will be released May 12 instead of March 31st as originally planned, according to Gannett.
It comes after many railroad industry groups warned in public comments that the proposed phase-out of DOT-111 tankers carrying Class 1 flammable materials by October 2017 and a phase-out of those carrying Class 2 liquids by October 2018 will lead to shortages of tank cars.
In a joint filing, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and the American Petroleum Institute (API) contend the tank car industry doesn’t have the capacity to retrofit the estimated 143,000 tank cars that would need to be modernized to meet the new specifications. Nor can manufacturers build new tank cars fast enough, they say.
About 70 percent of crude oil shipped to refineries from the Bakken Shale Formation in North Dakota and Montana — and 70 percent of ethanol shipped to refineries — is transported by rail, according to the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, a trade group representing 120 U.S. refineries.
As StateImpact Pennsylvania has previously reported, Bakken oil has helped breathe new life into Philadelphia’s refineries, but the city has also become one of the nation’s most heavily traveled regions for rail oil shipments. A string of recent accidents has prompted calls for safety upgrades.