Thursday, July 13, 2017

Christie vetoes oil train info bill, calling it a security risk

Cars dangle over Schuylkill River in January 2014 oil-train derailment in Philadelphia

Scott Fallon reports for The Record:

Gov. Chris Christie refused to sign a bill Thursday that would provide local emergency responders with more information on the scores of trains hauling volatile crude oil through New Jersey, saying it could become a security threat.

The measure, which was supported by firefighters, labor groups and environmentalists, required rail companies hauling hazardous materials to provide emergency response and cleanup plans with the state Office of Emergency Management. The state would then have to share those plans with county and municipal emergency personnel along rail routes like the 11 Bergen County towns where millions of gallons of oil pass through every week.

The bill would also require rail companies to provide on a publicly accessible website the routes and volumes of cargoes updated on a monthly basis, an analysis of the consequences of maximum discharges and a copy of the most current discharge response, cleanup and contingency plan.

In his conditional veto, Christie said the public should not have access to route and volume information because the trains are potential terrorist targets. "Providing this information in a public forum is irresponsible and reckless," he wrote.

Likewise, Christie said providing first responders with all of the information received by the state presents a similar security risk.

Christie's conditional veto of the bill, S806, sends the measure back to the Senate with 20 changes that supporters say severely weakens the bill.

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