Purpose

To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Board of Directors motion asks Metro to make renewed effort on public-private parnterships to fund transpo projects

http://thesource.metro.net/2014/02/27/board-of-directors-motion-asks-metro-to/

By Steve Hymon, February 27, 2014

 
Interesting motion above that was approved today by the Metro Board. My read on the motion: it’s three members of the Metro Board — Eric Garcetti, Michael D. Antonovich and Diane DuBois — asking Metro to step up its game when it comes to developing public-private partnerships to help fund and build transportation projects.

As the name implies, public-private partnerships are financial agreements between public agencies and private companies. There are several variations of PPPs but generally speaking it means a private firm fronts some of the money to build a project and then is paid back later, sometimes from revenues created by the project.

Metro has a PPP program that has already identified five big projects that might make for good PPPs — the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor (which could involve building a rail line under the Pass to connect the Westside and the San Fernando Valley, a very pricey idea), the High Desert Corridor, the 710 South and 710 North projects and a project that would construct congestion pricing lanes on the 5 freeway in the Santa Clarita area. But no deals have been finalized.

It’s hard to discuss PPPs without mentioning what’s happening in the Denver metro area, where voters in 2004 approved a sales tax increase to fund a big transit expansion. A PPP is being used there to build some of the commuter rail projects — including the 22-mile line that will connect downtown Denver and Denver International Airport.

Sound familiar? It should. Both Antonovich and Garcetti have made repeated public statements about the importance of connecting Metro Rail to LAX via the Airport Metro Connector project — a project that will likely need funding beyond the scope of Measure R to be fully realized.

Air pollution linked to high blood sugar in pregnant women

http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/newscience/2014/Feb/air-pollution-blood-sugar/

By EHN Staff, February 27, 2014


 

Pregnant women who lived in neighborhoods with more air pollution were twice as likely to have elevated blood sugar than women in less polluted areas, according to a new study of Boston area women. While previous research has linked fine particle pollution to type 2 diabetes, this is the first study to link it to high blood sugar during pregnancy. 
 
Pregnant women who lived in neighborhoods with more air pollution were twice as likely to have elevated blood sugar than women in less polluted areas, according to a new study of Boston area women.

While previous research has linked fine particle pollution to type 2 diabetes, this is the first study to link it to high blood sugar during pregnancy. High blood sugar can lead to serious complications in pregnancy, including preeclampsia and preterm birth, as well as obesity and insulin resistance in mother and child.

Researchers measured blood glucose levels of more than 2,000 pregnant women from the Boston area at the end of the second trimester, when doctors routinely screen pregnant women for gestational diabetes.

The researchers then measured fine particles, known as PM2.5, outside the women’s homes. Those who had the highest levels of fine particles were 2.3 times more likely to have elevated blood sugar levels than women in areas with less air pollution.

“To put our findings in perspective, the extent to which second trimester exposure increased odds of impaired glucose tolerance in the present study is the same order of magnitude as other well known risk factors for impaired glucose tolerance,” wrote the authors from Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital.

Being overweight at the start of pregnancy and having family members with diabetes are major risk factors for gestational diabetes. On average, the study women were normal weight before pregnancy and only 8 percent had a family history of diabetes.

Air pollution was not associated with gestational diabetes, only impaired glucose tolerance, which is a less severe condition indicative of prediabetes. Sixty-five of the women, or about 3 percent, had impaired glucose tolerance, while 118 women, or about 6 percent, had higher levels and were diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

It’s possible that women who are prone to more severe degrees of elevated blood sugar may be less sensitive to short-term air pollution exposures, according to the researchers.

The PM2.5 levels outside the women’s homes were not considered inordinately high. They “were almost uniformly lower” than federal health standards, the researchers wrote. One limitation is that the researchers didn’t measure the women’s actual exposures, just the pollutant levels near their homes.

The particulate levels were associated with traffic density, suggesting that vehicles were the major source of air pollution near the women’s homes. Black, Asian and Hispanic women were more likely than white women to live at addresses with higher levels of fine particles and traffic. The results may not be generalized to all pregnant women, because the study women were older and largely white.
Two earlier studies from the Netherlands and Sweden examined air pollution and blood sugar levels of pregnant women. The Dutch study found no association between traffic density and diabetes, while the Swedish study found one between gestational diabetes and nitrogen oxides, gases that come from vehicle exhaust and other sources that burn fossil fuels.

Up to 18 percent of pregnant women worldwide develop some degree of abnormal glucose tolerance by the end of the second trimester of pregnancy, according to the researchers.

Pregnant women are at risk of high blood sugar and diabetes because insulin resistance increases during pregnancy as a result of weight gain and other normal physiological processes. Insulin takes sugars out of the bloodstream and helps them enter the body’s cells, where they can be used for energy.


27 February Air pollution linked to high blood sugar in pregnant women. Pregnant women who lived in neighborhoods with more air pollution were twice as likely to have elevated blood sugar than women in less polluted areas, according to a new study of Boston area women. Environmental Health News.

29 January Is the Central Valley's air pollution affecting our cells and genes? In California's Central Valley – in one of the most polluted air basins in the country – we know that poor air is bad for our health. We feel it in our eyes and throat, and when we struggle to breathe. But what if air pollution is affecting us at a deeper, cellular level? Fresno Valley Public Radio, California.

28 January Can car exhaust fumes cause dementia? Asthma. Heart attacks. Cancer. Even diabetes. Respiratory illnesses including asthma are just some of the health problems increasingly associated with air pollution. With some, poor air quality is a known cause. In others, it triggers new symptoms or exacerbates existing ones. London Daily Mail, United Kingdom.

22 January Air pollution causes more diseases than expected. It turns out that pollution may be deadlier than expected. Scientists have discovered that air pollution causes a list of injuries and diseases that's far longer than previously thought. Science World Report.

11 January Air pollution and diabetes. We’ve long known that air pollution is bad for our lungs and can even cause cardiovascular disease, but recent research suggests that breathing dirty air in combination with a fatty diet can promote diabetes. Living On Earth.

11 December Poor air quality keeps some Colorado students indoors. Air pollution levels have rapidly grown over the past two weeks, and have reached a point that some District 51 students are being forced to stay indoors. Grand Junction KREX TV, Colorado.

6 November Post-Diwali smog prompts health warnings in Delhi. The National Capital is staring at another spell of thick smog after Diwali fire-crackers significantly increased air pollution. On Tuesday, Delhi remained under the grip of smog which triggered a host of respiratory infections and other health problems. London Daily Mail, United Kingdom.

23 October Exposure to traffic pollution a health risk for third of Canadians: Researchers. Traffic-related air pollution poses major health risks for the one-third of Canadians who live or work close to high-traffic roads or highways, say researchers, suggesting there are steps that can be taken to mitigate the danger. Canadian Press.

9 October Noise pollution: the city dweller's environmental health risk. A recent large population study found that noise pollution increases an individual’s risk of heart disease — just like fine-particle air pollution. The Weather Channel.

29 September Dusting down clean air controls. Harm to human health from airborne dust pollution has been seriously underestimated, forcing Europe to revisit its air quality legislation this year. Times of Malta.

28 September Cleanest air in 50 years! How did New York do it? Air quality in New York and many other US cities has been getting better since the 1970s. One factor in New York's recent improvement: a phase-out of heavily polluting heating oil in older buildings. Christian Science Monitor.

25 July Study finds link between long-term exposure to air pollution and diabetes-related mortality. Researchers found that where diabetes was listed as the primary cause of death – about 5,200 deaths in total – the individuals had lived in areas with a higher level of air pollution for 10 years or more. Windsor Star, Ontario.

4 July Europe must tackle air pollution, warn UN scientists. The health effects of air pollution have been underestimated and Europe should review its laws to tackle the problem, UN scientists have concluded after a major review of new evidence. The Guardian.
18 June Heavy pollution linked to risk of a
utism, study shows. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that diesel, mercury, lead, manganese and methylene chloride in the air significantly increased the risk of having a child with autism. The results add to a growing body of research that links air pollution to autism. Portland Oregonian, Oregon.

10 May Air pollution raises risk of diabetes precursor in kids. Exposure to air pollution raises the risk of resistance to insulin, a typical warning sign of diabetes, according to a study of almost 400 German children. Bloomberg News.

10 May Diabetes: Dirty air 'may raise' insulin resistance risk. Children's exposure to air traffic pollution could increase their risk of insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes in adults, suggests a study in Diabetologia. But some experts say the results should be treated with caution. BBC.

8 May Pittsburgh health summit finds link between pollution, health problems. High levels of air pollution make the Pittsburgh region a risky area to live when it comes to asthma, cancer and cardiovascular disease, according to studies presented Tuesday by a parade of researchers at a public health summit Downtown. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pennsylvania.

7 May 'AC, carpeted rooms triggering asthma attacks.' Long hours spent in air-conditioned and carpeted rooms and genetic factors are now being increasingly seen as major causes of asthma, which was earlier attributed mainly to vehicular exhaust and other forms of air pollution. Times of India, India.

30 April Michigan results mixed in new air quality study. Michigan has reduced overall air pollution since 2012, but its most populous counties still don’t earn a passing grade, according to a new report from the American Lung Association. The State of the Air report provides grades of A to F in two areas: particle pollution and ozone action days. Oakland Press, Michigan.

24 April Monmouth, Ocean counties get F's for ozone pollution. Ozone pollution in Monmouth and Ocean counties earned failing grades for the 14th year in a row, but Ocean received an A for particle pollution in an annual report on air quality. Asbury Park Press, New Jersey.
 

Bertha’s big troubles started in Japan

The state wants to know if the recent failure of seals is linked to earlier problems with those parts before the giant drill was shipped to Seattle.

 http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2022992719_berthasealsxml.html

By Dndrew Garber and Mike Lindblom, February 25, 2014

Chris Dixon, project manager for Seattle Tunnel Partners, earlier this month points out the outer seal assembly of Bertha’s main drive unit in photos taken before drilling work began. Dixon said there are indications that all seven outer seals may have been breached.<br/>

 Chris Dixon, project manager for Seattle Tunnel Partners, earlier this month points out the outer seal assembly of Bertha’s main drive unit in photos taken before drilling work began. Dixon said there are indications that all seven outer seals may have been breached.


 

Long before tunnel-boring machine Bertha stalled underneath Seattle because of leaky seals, it experienced a problem involving the same seals back in Japan.

When workers tested the mammoth $80 million machine before it was shipped here last April, they discovered damage to the seal system and ended up taking Bertha apart for repairs.
Now Bertha is again having problems with seals. There are indications that all seven of the machine’s outer seals may have been breached, according to the state Department of Transportation and the tunnel contractor.

Repairs will take several months in a 120-foot-deep pit that must be dug in front of the machine in wet soil along Elliott Bay.

While Bertha is having trouble with the same seals that had to be fixed in Japan, it’s unknown whether the cause of the problem is the same, said Matt Preedy, deputy administrator for the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program with the state Department of Transportation.

“We, of course, are curious if it’s any way related to the previous situation during dry-dock testing, but I don’t want to guess,” he said in an interview last week.

It would be unusual for all of a tunnel borer’s outer seals to breach so early in its journey, Preedy said.

An expert review-panel report on the Highway 99 project, written a year ago when Bertha was still in Japan, noted that the tunnel boring machine’s builder, Hitachi-Zosen, found “a significant fault” during testing that was expected to cause delays and make it “unlikely that the TBM will be completely assembled and fully tested prior to shipping.”

Preedy said that when Bertha was being built in Japan, one of the tests performed was to turn on the motors and rotate the cutter head. That’s when testers heard a noise and took Bertha apart. They found that some parts of the machine weren’t moving properly and caused “some metal-on-metal contact and basically damaged the seal assembly for the main bearing,” Preedy said.

After discovering the problem, the manufacturer, among other actions, had to “totally repair the seal system and reassemble it and rotate it again,” he said.

The seals protect the $5 million main bearing, which enables the ring-shaped drive shaft to turn the cutter, at about one rotation per minute.

Bertha has a redundant system of seven outer seals and one inner seal with the idea that if a seal gets breached, there are several left to protect the bearing.

Preedy said it’s not uncommon for a tunnel-boring machine to have one or two seal breaches as it nears the end of a tunnel “but still have enough seals left” to complete the project.

But it is unusual for all outer seals to be breached early in its journey, he said.

“Clearly where we are right now is the tunnel-boring machine is not nearly far enough along in its drive that a contractor should attempt to continue to go, because they don’t have any seals left in the outer seal ring,” Preedy said.

Bertha’s inner seal appears to be fine.

Extent of damage unclear

Chris Dixon, director of Seattle Tunnel Partners, the group hired to build the tunnel, said last week they hadn’t determined how much damage has been done to the outer seals yet.

“There are indications that somewhere around that whole circumference where the seals are installed, that all of them might have been breached, but we won’t really know until we remove that part of the machine and fully expose all of the seals,” he said.

Dixon said there have been other tunnel projects with multiple seal failures but acknowledged it’s not common. “The right characterization would be it was something that wasn’t anticipated this early on this tunnel project,” he said.

STP is moving ahead with plans to dig a shaft in front of Bertha so the cutter head can be exposed and the seals repaired.

Once the pit is dug, the 630-ton cutter head will be detached and lifted using a crane supported by wide footings so it won’t sink into the soft waterfront soils.

After the repairs are completed and the cutter head reattached, workers will backfill the hole so the machine can resume its journey. It’s not clear how long it will take to do all that work.

Time pressure in Japan

When Bertha was still in Japan, the expert review panel noted the importance of getting the tunnel boring machine shipped to Seattle on time: “It is imperative that the TBM be loaded and shipped as scheduled to maintain the tunnel project schedule.”

That meant getting the machine components on the Jumbo Fairpartner because the next ship large enough to carry Bertha was not scheduled to be in Japan for another six months.

As it turned out, the project lost approximately one month on its schedule by the time the Jumbo Fairpartner and Bertha made it to Seattle in April. The 41 sections were reassembled in Sodo and tested before drilling began July 30, as is routine for deep-bore tunnel projects.

The expert report said testing might have to be completed in Seattle. The report also pointed out that Seattle Tunnel Partners had a “very aggressive” schedule for tunnel completion. In an interview earlier this month, members of the review panel said they believed at the time that the schedule was doable.

Dixon said the machine was fully tested before it started tunneling.

Some tests that could have been done in either Japan or Seattle were done once the machine got here, he said. Those tests were unrelated to the seal system, Dixon said.

As far as the aggressive schedule pointed out by the expert panel, Dixon said, “I don’t see that as any kind of a contributing factor” to Bertha’s current problems.

The 1.7-mile dig was supposed to be finished by fall 2014, and the new Highway 99 tunnel to open for traffic at the end of 2015.

The state is now gingerly backing away from its assurances the job would be done by the end of 2015.

Todd Trepanier, Highway 99 administrator for the state Department of Transportation, reminded Seattle City Council members on Monday that the state’s original requirement was to finish the tunnel by late 2016. STP, which won the state bid to build the tunnel under a $1.44 billion contract, offered to complete the project 10 months earlier in exchange for up to $25 million in early-completion incentives.

Trepanier said he has not heard STP say it will be done significantly later than Dec. 31, 2015. The drilling is almost certain to stretch beyond the October 2014 timetable, but STP could try to accelerate its follow-up work installing the double-deck roadway and utilities.

Battle over extra cost likely

Before drilling began, state officials estimated it would progress at six feet per day to start and eventually accelerate to 35 feet per day under downtown. The machine exceeded 35 feet on some of its best days this fall but has operated for only 36 days since the July 30 launch.

Bertha has traveled 1,025 feet since drilling began July 30. After a shutdown Dec. 7, the machine advanced four feet during experimental restart efforts Jan. 28-29.

When asked by Seattle City Council members Monday about the cost of delays, Trepanier said that under the design-build contract system STP is the “engineer of record” and is therefore responsible for the design risk and related delays.

“There’s been no evidence put forth by Seattle Tunnel Partners that would show that any of the cost associated with this would be borne by our agency or by the taxpayers,” he said.

Dixon, of STP, has previously said in interviews that he considers a union work stoppage in August and a pipe the machine struck in December to be state issues for which STP could potentially file a claim.

Negotiation or litigation over costs is likely.

That’s Right, I Don’t Drive in Los Angeles

The Bus Has a Code of Behavior, a Pace, and an Intimacy All Its Own

http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2014/02/27/thats-right-i-dont-drive-in-los-angeles/chronicles/where-i-go/

By Nicolei Gupit, February 27, 2014



 That’s Right, I Don’t Drive in Los Angeles


There are over 6 million drivers in the county of Los Angeles, but I’m not one of them. Since 1998, when my family moved here from the Philippines, we have relied on Metro, L.A.’s major public transportation system, to get around. For 13 years, my aunt left our East Hollywood apartment at 5:30 a.m. and arrived home at 6 p.m. every day, taking two buses to and from her workplace in El Monte, 18 miles away. Growing up, I walked with my mother to and from Lockwood Elementary School less than 10 minutes from home.


Once a week, my mom and I would take the bus together down Vermont Avenue to Seafood Market and Goldilocks Bakery in Koreatown, a 30-minute trip, including wait time. My mom would only buy as much as we could comfortably lift. I would carry a brown bag full of pandesal, Filipino bread rolls, and she would hold double plastic-bagged groceries with both hands. I loved pandesal but hated the long wait at the bus stop and the bumpy journey on the road. Whenever I felt queasy on the bus, my mom would pull a plastic bag out of her pocket, widen it in front of my mouth, and pat my back. Once, on the way home after visiting the doctor, a female bus driver ordered my mom to take the lollipop out from my mouth: “Or else she’s gonna choke herself from it!” My mom told the driver she had no right to tell her what to do. We hopped off the bus before the next stop, but we still had long stretches of pavement to walk before reaching home.

In sixth grade, I became comfortable taking the bus on my own after school and on weekends. I passed the time waiting at bus stops and riding listening to Linkin Park on my CD player. The abrupt, jerky bus motions kept me from reading and sometimes still made me feel sick. But I could prevent a headache by tuning out the stops and starts and gazing at storefronts, license plates, pedestrians, and street activity through the windows. I enjoyed observing Los Angeles in its different faces, like cities within the city, from MacArthur Park to Park La Brea, Downtown L.A. to West L.A. I was able to travel as far west as Santa Monica and as far south as Long Beach on public transportation for $1.25. I could catch any one of the dozen buses heading every cardinal direction away from my busy home-base intersection of Vermont Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard. I learned by heart the cadence of passing streets as I rode the buses plying Vermont: Sunset, Fountain, Santa Monica, Melrose, Beverly, First, Third, Sixth, Wilshire. I created my own map of L.A. by surveying who got on and off the bus at which stops. While I heard mostly Spanish and Armenian spoken around East Hollywood, I would hear mostly Korean, Chinese, or Tagalog when passing neighboring areas heading south and west from home.

When I started high school at John Marshall High in Los Feliz, I rode the bus home every school day—a 30-minute wait at the bus stop plus 15 minutes on the bus. (In the mornings, I typically walked 40 minutes to Marshall because the buses weren’t always on time, and I didn’t want to be late for the bell. A ride by car would’ve taken five minutes.) I began purchasing monthly student passes in ninth grade. A day or two before the end of the month, I would stand in a long line at a cash-checking kiosk to sign up for the $24 pass reserved for full-time students. Student passes were in high demand, so Metro ran out of them within a couple days of the first of the month. When I missed getting a pass, the bill for riding the bus that month added up to about $50 just for the weekdays.


The bus was a cheap form of independence, but I was paying fare for an unpredictable experience. Even when plugged into my music, it was impossible not to overhear conversations. I once listened to a young lady directly behind me on her cellphone tell the story of her life growing up in foster homes, express her undying love for Jesus Christ, and invite the man on the line to an upcoming Bible study session. I also learned to be careful about verbal and physical harassment. I knew to check to see who I would be next to before I sat in any seat. I was cautious about wearing revealing or tight-fitting clothing because it made me feel vulnerable.

The bus has a code of behavior all its own. It’s rare to witness strangers engaging in conversation, even when people stand face-to-face in a crowded aisle. But from time to time, I see someone gesture, or communicate with a tap on the back, in order to offer a seat to an elderly person or someone with lots of grocery bags. While it’s acceptable to talk on cellphones, it’s somehow not acceptable to sing aloud.

It’s common to listen to music, but I rarely see anyone open up a MacBook on the bus. It seems a little like showing off when most riders don’t have such luxuries, plus there’s not a lot of privacy. And, at least when I was younger, people didn’t want to expose valuables on the bus—my brother had his iPhone stolen and pockets picked.

Most phones today come with applications that accurately map out bus routes and provide arrival and departure times. I spend less time waiting at bus stops, and I no longer have to walk long distances instead of guessing when the next bus will show up. I don’t have to visit the Metro website before leaving home to draw maps on paper. And as much as I enjoyed gazing out the bus windows, I prefer the way technology has integrated my riding experience with my work and personal life because I use the time to browse the Internet, send and receive e-mails, or read the news. The streets of L.A. seem more congested than they did 10 years ago, but the expansion of the Metro Rapid buses (which provide faster and more frequent service on major roads) and the more extensive subway system have made Metro more reliable. Rides are shorter now than when I was a kid.

My commute to work in Santa Monica from Mid-City, where I live now, is an hour long, and my commute back home can take more than two hours due to traffic. Taking the bus as an adult, I’ve learned to wear walking shoes and pack my purse with my dress shoes.

I walk to the supermarket during the work week, but on weekends I take the bus to go shopping in Koreatown, just like I did with my mom as a kid. And while most of my friends now have cars, I still base our meeting spots on bus routes to make things convenient, and so I don’t have to rely on them entirely for rides. We’ll meet at a subway stop that’s busy—say, Pershing Square—so it’s relatively safe to be waiting at, especially in the late evening. Then we’ll walk together to the Downtown L.A. Art Walk or a restaurant.

Growing up riding the bus has made me appreciate the city for its asphalt, its streetlights, its drivers, its pedestrians, and all its changing shapes and forms. I don’t think I stress any less about being on time than people who drive, and L.A. traffic affects me as much as it does L.A. drivers. But riding the bus has made me attuned to the city at a different pace. It’s also given me insight into the day-to-day struggles of people in my city. I’ve seen young men in suits leaving work in the evening sitting down next to red-eyed construction workers just heading out to their jobs. I’ve seen so many 17-year-old mothers guiding one or two children through the bus doors on their own. I once stood beside a short, tanned man who only made eye contact as we were both being squeezed by the doors that opened inward. He gestured to give me more space even though it limited his. As he told me in Spanish about his work in the fields and how he couldn’t speak English, I thought about how I probably wouldn’t have met him any other way.

These people are all a part of my Los Angeles, and, as they get off at their particular intersections, I get telling glimpses of the different paths Angelenos end up traveling. That seat on the bus is the best place in L.A. for tapping into the heartbeat of the city.

You might see fewer oil trains on the tracks, thanks to a new emergency order

http://grist.org/news/you-might-see-fewer-oil-trains-on-the-tracks-thanks-to-a-new-emergency-order/

By John Upton, February 27, 2014



 Oil-hauling train



The rash of exploding railcars across North America was treated with a dash of regulatory tonic this week.

Citing an “imminent hazard” of explosion and fire posed by trains hauling crude, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued an emergency order requiring more thorough testing of oil before it’s shipped. The department is especially concerned about oil from the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota and Montana, as it’s been found to be particularly explosive. The order also bars shipping oil in weak railcars designed for less hazardous materials.

The move could slow train shipments of oil from the Bakken shale and from Canada’s tar sands. Bloomberg reports:

The order threatens to worsen a shortage of tanker-cars, forcing U.S. shippers to search for more protective units designed to handle flammable crudes or risk curtailing deliveries, according to Marvin Trimble, the commercial development director at Strobel Starostka Transfer Canada, a rail-services company.

“You’re going to have to shuffle around your entire fleet,” Trimble said at the Crude by Rail 2014 conference [on Monday] … “It may seem like a little bit of an announcement, but it’s going to have far-reaching ramifications, and I don’t know for how long.” …

An investigation by the Federal Railroad Administration found that shippers sometimes misclassified the oil they offered for sale, loading supplies into tankers that weren’t sturdy enough to safely carry materials in the highest hazard category.
The American Petroleum Institute told a congressional hearing that the emergency order “creates confusion,” but other industry players acknowledged that the order made sense.

The New York Times reports that this is “the fourth emergency order or safety advisory issued in the last seven months related to the booming oil-by-rail trade.” And last week, major railroads agreed to eight voluntary steps to make oil shipments safer, including “lowering speed limits for oil trains in some cities, increasing the frequency of track inspections, adding more brakes on trains and improving the training of emergency medical workers,” according to the Times.
But independent rail experts and environmentalists say all this is not nearly enough. This week’s emergency order in particular should have been stronger, said Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York. “Merely requiring testing but not having an action plan or a requirement to release the testing data publicly still places our communities at risk,” he said.

Video by Joe Cano: The Close The Gap Gang