Actions Would Accelerate Existing Regulatory Implementation and Increase Transparency
Governor Kathy Hochul today continued to urge Congress, federal regulators and the freight rail industry to take additional proactive steps to prevent freight rail disasters following last week’s derailment in Montgomery County. These measures, first outlined by the Governor in February, will help create a safer freight rail transportation industry, while increasing state emergency response capabilities through improved federal oversight.
“Keeping New Yorkers safe is my number one priority, so we cannot wait for another disaster to happen before we take steps to improve rail safety,” Governor Hochul said. “The train derailment last week in Montgomery County was thankfully free of injuries or spills but demonstrates the incredible need for the federal government and the freight rail industry to take action and protect both residents and the environment.”
Specifically, Governor Hochul calls on Congress, the freight rail industry and federal regulators to take the following actions:
- Expedite the phase-in of safer tank cars (DOT 117's) for hazardous materials in advance of the Congressionally mandated 2029 deadline.
- Modernize braking regulations and increase the use of electronically controlled pneumatic brakes (ECP) to prevent potential rail derailments.
- Require rail roads to provide advance notification to State emergency response teams of hazardous cars moving through their state.
- Expand state and local grants specifically for hazmat preparedness and response planning.
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “I applaud the Governor’s continued call for a multi-pronged set of actions on this important safety matter. We all recognize that enhancing rail safety is not something that New York State can address on its own - it requires our partners in the freight rail industry and the federal government to work together with us to achieve these important safety objectives. Strengthening rail safety in New York State will help further protect our communities and the environment, reducing the frequency and severity of rail crashes, which are results that we all seek to achieve.”
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Governor Hochul recognizes that the safest way to avoid a public health and environmental disaster like East Palestine is to prevent derailments in the first place. DEC applauds her vigilance in seeking additional rail industry improvements on the national level and remains committed to working with our federal, state, and local partners to protect communities.”
New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, “Hazardous material incidents along railroads have become all too common here in New York and across the country. DHSES experts trained in hazmat and disaster response responded to last week’s derailment in Montgomery County, where thankfully no one was injured. Governor Hochul’s proposed common sense measures would undoubtedly create a safer environment for everyone moving forward.”
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said, “I’m very thankful that there were no injuries during the train derailment in Montgomery County, but we must take action to prevent this from happening again. I support Governor Hochul’s efforts to push the federal government and freight industry to intercede and ensure the safety of New Yorkers.”