“I just want to make sure that we are all singing the same tune that we have a very safe industry and we want to work together on improving that industry.”
Those were the words of Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials on February 3rd at a hearing titled “How the Changing Energy Markets Will Affect U.S. Transportation.” He was directing this advice to Greg Saxton, chief engineer for rail tank car manufacturer Greenbrier.
Denham obviously had a bone to pick with Saxton because prior to the hearing the Modesto Bee, a newspaper in Denham’s home district, ran an editorial making a strong case that the existing tank cars used to transport crude oil are unsafe. The editorial, “Delays on safer rail cars are unacceptable,” didn’t mince words. It was clear on what should happen: “The DOT [Department of Transportation] should adopt rules for those cars then set deadlines to replace every single tank car in America. Our elected representatives should insist on it.”
In Modesto, the elected representative who should be insisting on that is Jeff Denham.
Modesto is also home to Greenbrier’s manufacturing facilities and the editorial quoted Saxton for its conclusion noting his position on the lack of new regulations. “We just need a decision. Twenty years is too long.”
This is not the tune that Chairman Denham wants everyone to be singing. In his comments to Saxton at the hearing he explained his intent.