Rail Regs In Crosshairs After Emergency Brakes Rule Repeal

Law360 interviews Marc Scribner about the repeal of the electronically controlled pneumatic brake mandate for high-hazard flammable unit trains by the Federal Railroad Administration:

The agency concluded that there wasn’t sufficient justification for issuing a blanket requirement that expensive ECP brakes be installed on trains when they haven’t been proven to be significantly safer or better at preventing derailments.

Experts say the move ramps up the pressure on federal agencies, especially the FRA, to more carefully justify that the benefits of any rule are worth the costs to businesses, and regulations whose reviews aren’t up to snuff, according to this administration, will face the ax.

“The most convincing point the railroads made had to do with the fact the ECP rule was so prescriptive and didn’t allow the flexibility for them to find other means of achieving safe outcomes,” Marc Scribner, a senior fellow and transportation policy expert with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told Law360. “It would’ve been unexpected if they didn’t repeal the rule and roll it back. A lot of what the railroad industry would like to see is the FRA regulate in a performance-based manner, rather than a prescriptive manner.”

And the Trump administration has demonstrated that it will more strictly enforce orders like that one, as well as President Donald Trump’s so-called 2-for-1 order, issued in January, requiring that for every new federal regulation issued, an agency must identify two existing regulations to be repealed.

“The DOT has seen mixed results [and] in terms of progress on the performance-based rulemaking front, the FRA was in worst shape,” Scribner explained. “I hope this means the FRA is getting its act together to comply and not engage in arbitrary and perspective rulemaking. It’s the beginning of something much more, and it’s certainly a good sign of whatever is to follow.”

Read the full article at Law360.