Obama Again Proposes Big SRF Cuts

April 2014, Vol. 69 No. 4

The EPA budget document accompanying the Obama 2015 proposal says that the reduced funding will be targeted to "small and underserved communities with a limited ability to repay loans, while maintaining state program integrity." In addition, 20 percent of the CWSRF capitalization grants will go to green infrastructure projects including those to manage stormwater, which helps communities improve water quality while creating green space, mitigating flooding and enhancing air quality.

Safety of rail transportation growing congressional concern (subhed)

Both House and Senate committee leaders with jurisdiction have begun to show impatience with what they view as out-of-date federal regulations on railroads carrying oil produced in the Bakken, Eagle Ford and Marcellus shale regions. "The shale oil boom has dramatically changed the energy sector in our country," says Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W V), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. "While the changes bring opportunities for robust economic development, they also raise serious safety concerns of shipping large amounts of crude on the railroads running through our communities." The committee held hearings on March 6.

House members, who held their own hearings on Feb.26, and senators quizzed Cynthia Quarterman, administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), about the agency's progress on a number of rulemakings aimed at modernizing regulations related to rail transportation of hazardous liquids such as crude oil. PHMSA is in the midst of revising regulations on such things as rail car strength and is responsible for ensuring that shale producers take safety measures when shipping liquid hazardous materials.

At both hearings, some legislators and industry officials used the multiple, recent shale rail accidents to point out the need for the Keystone XL pipeline, which President Obama is expected to make a decision on soon. One of those recent tank car oil spills caused the loss of 27 lives in Quebec. At the February House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) alluded to a fire in Casselton, ND, inside his district, caused by the derailment of an agricultural products train which was hit by a crude carrying railroad traveling toward the derailed train. Cramer said it stemmed from "the lack of pipeline capacity."