The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Trump Repeals Rule Meant to Prevent Oil-Carrying 'Bomb Trains' From Derailing and Exploding
By Jessica Corbett
In a move that outraged environmentalists and increased the chances of deadly and destructive accidents, the Trump administration's Department of Transportation (DOT) has repealed an Obama-era rule that mandated safety upgrades for "dangerous" oil tanker trains to reduce the possibility of derailments, explosions and spills.
"This commonsense rule was put in place in response to a series of deadly accidents, and this shameless decision to repeal it will mean more workers and communities are put at risk," declared Sierra Club Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign director Kelly Martin.
The rule required trains carrying oil and other flammable materials—sometimes called "bomb trains"—to install electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes that decrease the likelihood of derailment by 2021.
While it was initially criticized by green groups that said it did not go far enough to protect communities, the Monday reversal was regarded as yet another move by the administration to appease polluters at the expense of the public.
"Apparently there's no limit to the lengths the Trump administration will go," Martin said, "to prioritize the desires of polluting industries over the health and safety of the American people."
The repeal was initially proposed in December of 2017, but finalized by the DOT's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) on Monday. PHMSA claimed that a congressionally-mandated analysis concluded "that the expected costs of requiring ECP brakes would be significantly higher than the expected benefits of the requirement." The change does not prevent railroads from using ECP brakes but the safety upgrade is no longer mandated.
"The electronically controlled brakes would have been a long-awaited safety improvement," Fred Millar, an independent consultant specializing in chemical safety and transport, told BuzzFeed News.
By repealing the safety requirement, Millar added, "the cost will be borne by the people who die or are injured or who have terrible property damage."
Perhaps of the most high-profile derailment in recent years occurred in Quebec in 2013. A train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded, destroying the small downtown of Lac-Mégantic and killing 47 people. Five years after the tragedy, CBC reported in July, rail safety advocates say the Canadian government also has not done enough to prevent future disasters.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Emily Deanne
Shower shoes? Check. Extra-long sheets? Yep. Energy efficiency checklist? No worries — we've got you covered there. If you're one of the nation's 12.1 million full-time undergraduate college students, you no doubt have a lot to keep in mind as you head off to school. If you're reading this, climate change is probably one of them, and with one-third of students choosing to live on campus, dorm life can have a big impact on the health of our planet. In fact, the annual energy use of one typical dormitory room can generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as the tailpipe emissions of a car driven more than 156,000 miles.
By Lorraine Chow
Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.
States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.
By Kristin Ohlson
From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.
Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.
By Hans Nicholas Jong
Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.
It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."