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December 2017
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AAR commends agreement on multi-year surface transportation legislation

Association of American Railroads (AAR) President and CEO, Edward R. Hamberger applauded Congressional conferees on reaching agreement on the first long-term surface transportation bill in a decade, which includes safety enhancements for tank cars moving flammable liquids in the United States. 

Hamberger said provisions requiring increased thermal blanket protection for tank cars, restrictions on  the use of older DOT-111 tank cars moving flammable liquids and the requirement for top fittings protection on tank car retrofits address what the rail industry felt were safety shortcomings with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's (PHMSA) tank car rule enacted in May.

"The AAR's position has always been that the tank car rule was a good start, but didn't advance safety as much as it could," said Hamberger.

Hamberger said the House and the Senate should be commended for the hard work and bipartisan efforts that went into making possible a highway bill the country has long needed. This legislation, he said, demonstrates that it's possible to put partisan politics aside and deliver on the expectations of American voters.

The AAR also welcomed a measure in the surface transportation legislation to streamline the environmental permitting process for rail infrastructure projects based on previously enacted reforms for highway and transit projects. The reforms are designed to increase capacity, improve safety, hire new employees and provide efficient service to rail customers.

"America's freight rail industry is pleased with the commonsense reforms intended to address duplicative and burdensome permitting delays, unrelated to environmental quality," said Hamberger.