Tuesday, October 23, 2018

HR 7076 Introduced – Electronically Controlled Breaks

Last week Rep. Herrera-Beutler introduced HR 7076, the Oil and Flammable Material Rail Transportation Safety Act. The bill would require DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) to re-instate 49 CFR 174.310 requirements for electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes on high-hazard flammable unit trains (HHFUT) operating in excess of 30-mph.

Those ECP requirements were removed by PHMSA in a final rule on September 25th, 2018. That action was required by Congress in §7311 of the FAST Act (PL 114-94, 129 Stat. 1601) after PHMSA published the new regulatory impact analysis (RIA) (.PDF Download) required by that act that showed that the costs of the ECP requirement significantly outweighed the benefits (see pgs 78-9 of the RIA).

Section 2 of the bill would nullify that rulemaking and return the ECP brake requirements to §174.310.

Moving Forward

Herrera-Beutler is not a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to which this bill was assigned for consideration. This means that she is unlikely to have the influence necessary to have the bill considered in Committee.

There would be significant railroad opposition to this bill which means that it would likely draw major opposition in Committee and on the floor of the House if it were to make it that far. The bill is extremely unlikely to be considered in the 115th Congress and would not pass if it were.


This is an unusual bill to be proposed by a Republican, but her district is well known for its concern about the oil trains moving through the area, so the bill makes good sense from a campaign perspective in that district. I doubt that there is any downside in corporate support because of the introduction of this measure since the railroads would certainly understand that this bill will not go anywhere in this Congress.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Before any further consideration is made for ECP brakes for flammable unit trains, someone should do a little testing to see how much effect that this braking system will have on product surge within the tank cars. It sounds nice that the unit train would be able to stop quicker, but testing really needs to be performed to see if product surge has a more detramental effect to the train it stops so quickly.

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