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For Release: Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Statement from State DEC Commissioner Martens and State DOT Commissioner Mcdonald on North Dakota's Action on Bakken Crude Oil Shipment

Today, the North Dakota Industrial Commission voted to approve regulations to reduce the volatility of crude oil at the source before it is shipped across the nation.

State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens and state Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald said, "New York State is pleased North Dakota has taken aggressive action to increase the safety of transporting crude oil across the state and nation. Reducing the volatility of Bakken crude at the source protects public health, protects the environment and provides an additional safeguard for New Yorkers and communities across the country. We thank North Dakota for taking swift action."

In October Commissioners Martens and McDonald sent a letter to North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple in support of the proposed North Dakota state regulations changes to require oil producers to remove volatile gases from Bakken crude oil prior to shipping the crude oil across the country by rail.

The Cuomo administration has taken 66 actions to safeguard New York's residents, communities, waterways and lands from potentially serious incidents involving the increased shipment of volatile crude oil by rail or vessel in the state, including:

  • secured the commitment of the federal government to update long overdue oil spill response plans that are required by federal statute;
  • urged federal officials to expeditiously implement stringent regulatory changes that would: improve tank car design specifications and expedite the phase-out of older, unsafe rail cars, require comprehensive, geographically specific oil spill response plans for crude oil trains, implement more stringent standards to test and stabilize crude oil, mandate automated braking systems for rail companies and review the routing of crude oil to ensure the most appropriate routes;
  • directed state agencies to implement an aggressive enforcement and inspection effort to better protect communities from train derailments carrying crude oil and to hire five additional rail inspectors as well as increase emergency response assets;
  • coordinated inspection blitzes across state and issued fines to companies that fail to comply with current state regulations related to derailments; and
  • established a multi-agency working group along with partner railroads to coordinate preparedness activities and to improve response scenarios.
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