US senator wants new look at oil trains rule

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley says the U.S. Department of Transportation should conduct a new cost-benefit analysis of a canceled rule that would have required better brakes for trains hauling explosive fuels.

The Democratic lawmaker’s comments on Thursday came in response to an Associated Press finding that officials understated the potential benefits of the brakes by up to $117 million.

Railroads were required to begin installing electronic brakes under a 2015 rule prompted by a string of fiery derailments involving oil and ethanol shipments. The Trump administration canceled the rule in September, citing its high cost.

Administration officials acknowledged their analysis of the rule omitted potential damages that could have been avoided with the brakes. But they said it was unintentional and does not affect the repeal.