(Washington, DC) – Today, House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Members sent a letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT) requesting information about the research, development, and technology (RD&T) efforts being made to improve the transportation of hazardous material by rail in the aftermath of the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment.
The letter was signed by Science Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK), Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Jay Obernolte (R-CA), Research and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Collins (R-GA), and Research and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Haley Stevens (D-MI).
“It is the shared goal of this Committee and DOT to ensure the safe, efficient, and reliable movement of people and goods by rail. DOT’s various research programs are meant to contribute to the strategic goals of good repair and economic competitiveness through innovative technologies and safety-focused projects,” the Members wrote. “While competitiveness is essential, it cannot come at the expense of Americans’ safety. When incidents like the one in East Palestine occur, it requires careful consideration of how current practices, procedures, and efforts are improving effective operability of our transportation systems.”
The letter also requests information into the implementation of funding from recent appropriations for continued RD&T activities, DOT’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Infrastructure (ARPA-I), and the Transportation Technology Center (TTC) in Pueblo, Colorado. “The Committee seeks to ensure that ARPA-I is truly investing in practical solutions,” the Members wrote. “We want to ensure that the tax dollars of the American people are funding solid efforts that will provide real results and mitigate accidents like the recent derailment.” Additionally, “[t]he Committee is interested in the RD&T work being conducted at TTC, specifically as it relates to tank car development, way-side detection research, and implementation of automated track inspection technology.”
To ensure that DOT is prioritizing critical federal research dollars by investing in RD&T into safe and effective transportation technologies, the Committee requests a briefing and written responses to the letter’s posed questions by June 20, 2023.
Read the full letter here.