House Passes Legislation on Rail Waste Facilities

Date: October 17, 2007

Source: Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg

House Passes Lautenberg Legislation on Rail Solid Waste

The House of Representatives today passed the Clean Railroads Act of 2007, legislation authored by U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and cosponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), that will allow states to regulate solid waste processing facilities along rail lines. It was included as an amendment to larger rail safety legislation.

The amendment eliminates a loophole in federal law that prohibits states from enforcing environmental, health and safety regulations at these rail sites. This loophole has allowed railroad companies to pile trash, largely consisting of construction debris, at times two stories high.

"It is critical that we allow states to protect their residents through effective regulation of solid waste processing," said Lautenberg. "I applaud the House vote that puts us closer to eliminating a loophole that threatens our environment and security. I look forward to this legislation becoming law so we can ensure that the public is protected from the hazards these sites pose to human health and safety."

"The health of our state, its citizens and its environment is precious and should never be jeopardized by the hazardous waste that is dumped at these railroad facilities," said Sen. Menendez, who was the author of legislation in the House to give states the right to regulate rail waste processing facilities before he entered the U.S. Senate. "We are now one step closer to making sure that our state can determine for itself what it will and will not permit to be dumped along the railroad. The inclusion of this amendment in the House bill is tremendously important for New Jerseyans I applaud Congressman Pallone for his work on the House side, and I will continue to work with Sen. Lautenberg to ensure that this provision becomes law."

The House's vote to approve the amendment comes one day after Sen. Lautenberg testified before a House Transportation and Infrastructure panel on regulation of these waste sites. At the hearing, he was joined by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ-06), the sponsor of the House version of the measure.

In September, the Senate passed a temporary measure authored by Sen. Lautenberg to allow New Jersey to regulate some solid waste processing facilities on railroads. The measure was included in a one-year spending bill for transportation and housing programs which expires after one year.

Lautenberg's Clean Railroads Act of 2007 would make these provisions permanent. His bill was approved by the Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee as part of the Senate version of rail safety legislation.

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