Thursday, November 14, 2019

HR 4987 Introduced – FDPREP Act

Last week Rep Herrera Beutler (R,WA) introduced HR 4987, the Fire Department Proper Response and Equipment Prioritization (FDPREP) Act. The bill would require the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to give priority in administration of firefighter assistance grants to grant requests related to crude-by-rail or ethanol-by-rail response.

The bill amends 15 USC 2229(c) (Assistance to firefighters grants) by adding a new paragraph (4) that would require FEMA to “give high priority consideration to grants providing for planning, training, and equipment to firefighters for crude oil-by-rail and ethanol-by-rail derailment and incident response”.

Moving Forward

Herrera Beutler is a member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee to which this bill is assigned. She should have adequate influence to see this bill considered in Committee. There is nothing in the language of this bill that would engender any significant opposition since no new funds are being allocated. This bill would probably have enough bipartisan support to have it considered on the floor of the House under the suspension of rules process.


Herrera Beutler is an interesting case, a Republican opponent of crude-by-rail. This is an important issue for her constituents. Her district sits astride the main rail corridor for Bakken crude oil destined for west coast refineries.

This very simple and direct bill addresses the very real problem of how local fire departments pay for planning and training for, and the execution of, emergency response measures for a low-probability, high-consequence event like an oil-train fire.

This is not a total solution to the problem, as these grants are relatively limited and there are hundreds of communities potentially affected by this issue. But it is certainly a step forward in helping these fire departments.

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