Wednesday, February 19, 2014

STB Announces Meeting of RETAC, 3-6-14

Today the Surface Transportation Board (STB) published a meeting notice in the Federal Register (79 FR 9587-9588) for a meeting of the Rail Energy Transportation Advisory Board on March 6th, 2014. Potential agenda items for this meeting include:

• Introduction of new members;
• A performance measures review;
• Discussion of domestic oil production and transportation;
• Industry segment reports by RETAC members;
• A presentation on the domestic coal market; and
• A roundtable discussion.

There is not yet an actual agenda for the upcoming meeting on the RETAC web site. There are some interesting items from the minutes of the last meeting on September 19th, 2013:

• The Association of American Railroads reported “a performance measure of 99.998% for successful transportation of hazardous materials. Accident rates are down, resulting in rail being the safest mode of transportation. Crude oil shipment performance has been excellent, resulting in product loss of only 2.2 gallons per million ton miles.” Page 2 of Minutes. I suspect that the figures have probably changed since then.

• The Rail Fleet Update continues to show a large backlog of new bulk tank cars and further projected growth in the petroleum transportation process.

• The Rail Crude Oil Segment Report (NOTE: there is some sort of problem with data visualization on page 2; it just won’t load) contains some interesting graphics on the increase in the barrels of crude oil shipments originating in North Dakota (slide 4) and showing that 68% of the crude shipped from that region goes by rail.

The public is invited to attend the meeting, but there does not appear to be any provisions for public oral comments at the meeting. The STB is soliciting written comments; they should be emailed to Michael Higgins (

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