| WASHINGTON, July 23
WASHINGTON, July 23 The U.S. ethanol industry
pushed back on Wednesday against what they called a "one size
fits all" approach to proposed federal rules for shipping fuel
by rail, saying regulators must distinguish between the often
corn-based biofuel and crude oil.
Their calls follow an unveiling by the U.S. Department of
Transportation of proposed safety features for new tank cars
transporting fuel, and the phasing out of older cars considered
Developed in response to a string of fiery railcar accidents
involving crude oil cargoes, the new rules would also apply to
shipments of ethanol.
Biofuel groups said treating both fuels the same is a
"We shouldn't be forced to pay the bill for somebody else's
problem," said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa
Renewable Fuels Association.
Over the last 18 months, at least a dozen trains carrying
crude oil have derailed. Six of those accidents led to spills
and major fires, and one caused the death of 47 people in
The U.S. ethanol industry has about 29,000 railcars in its
service. The average age of its fleet is nine years old, with
each car expected to be in service for 40 to 50 years.
Shaw said his group supports additional regulations to
strengthen railcar safety, especially measures that would help
prevent accidents, but that new rules should take into account
the differences between ethanol and crude oil.
Ethanol is less volatile as crude oil, is biodegradable and
has a 99.997 percent rail safety record, according to the
national Renewable Fuels Association.
"Unlike oil from fracking, ethanol is not a highly volatile
feedstock of unknown and differing quality and characteristics
being shipped to a refinery for commercial use," said Bob
Dinneen, president of the RFA.
The groups acknowledged that rail transport of ethanol does
not come without risks.
In 2009, a train carrying ethanol derailed in Cherry Valley,
Illinois, and caught fire, killing a person in a car nearby and
injuring several others.
After that accident the National Transportation Safety Board
in 2012 recommended safety improvements for certain railcars
transporting ethanol and crude oil.
Shaw said the government should look at what makes sense for
ethanol as opposed to "one size fits all."
(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Ros Krasny, Bernard