February 21, 2023

Ranking Members Larsen and Payne Jr. and Vice Ranking Member Foushee Statement on Department of Transportation Rail Safety

Washington, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Rick Larsen (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) and Vice Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Valerie Foushee (D-NC) praised the Biden Administration after the Department of Transportation released their Rail Safety Action Plan, a three-pronged approach to improving the safety of our nation’s freight rail system.

“Americans deserve to know that safety comes first on our nation’s railroads,” said Ranking Member Larsen. “The Rail Safety Action Plan released by Secretary Buttigieg is a good first step. I look forward to working on solutions in the weeks to come that deliver real improvements to our system including providing the Department of Transportation with stronger tools to penalize bad actors, updating the rules governing the transport of hazardous materials, and supporting the hardworking railroad workers who keep our economy running.”  

“I applaud Secretary Buttigieg’s quick response to the terrible train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio with his Rail Safety Action Plan,” said Ranking Member Payne, Jr. “His plan calls for the removal of older tank cars, two crew members on all freight trains, and a safety review of routes with high volumes of hazardous materials traffic. These are smart recommendations that will improve freight train and public safety for the entire industry. I look forward to working with Secretary Buttigieg to increase the fines for rail safety violations to match the dangers from derailments and encourage freight rail companies to emphasize safety and efficiency in how they run their operations. We need to make sure our freight rail trains do not pose a risk to public health and safety when accidents occur.” 

“The recent derailment in East Palestine, Ohio has raised potential public health and environmental concerns that are impacting the daily lives of residents,” said Vice Ranking Member Foushee. “It is critical to improve our rail safety standards and hold rail companies accountable for devastating incidents, and I am committed to working with my colleagues on the committee and the Department of Transportation to implement the Rail Safety Action Plan and protect communities across the country.”