Donnelly office: pipelines better than oil trains

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Following yet another fiery oil train derailment, Sen. Joe Donnelly’s office (D-IN) thinks pipelines are a better alternative.

A BNSF freight train carrying 103 tank cars loaded with crude oil derailed in northern Illinois Thursday, bursting into flames and causing evacuations.  The incident marks at least a dozen major oil train derailments across the U.S and Canada since 2013.

Beginning last October, 15 Finds Out first uncovered how much crude oil travels on northeast Indiana railroads.  Trains carry up to 63 million gallons of crude oil through the area every week.

It’s left federal regulators considering new safety standards, which include sturdier tank cars and enhanced braking.  Some railroads and oil companies said that could cost billions and slow down freight deliveries.

The proposed safety regulations are still under review, which has some criticizing federal officials for moving too slow on an urgent concern.

On Friday, NewsChannel 15 asked Donnelly’s office about the regulations and if he thinks pipelines could ease safety concerns. His press secretary, Sarah Rothschild, released the following statement:

“Senator Donnelly believes it’s important we take steps to ensure trains carrying oil are safer as soon as possible, while also understanding the need to get the revised measures right, rather than completed by a specific deadline. As a supporter of the Keystone pipeline and other pipelines as part of a comprehensive energy infrastructure and security strategy, Senator Donnelly thinks that if properly operated and maintained, pipelines can be a better alternative.”

Thursday’s derailment in Illinois and February’s explosive oil train incident in West Virginia share a common factor: Both trains had newer tank cars that were supposed to be more puncture-resistant.

Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) and Congressman Marlin Stutzman (R-3rd District) weren’t available for comment Friday.

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