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Derailments alarm lawmakers; quick evaluation of rail system sought

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By The Associated Press
Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, 8:48 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The chairmen of the Senate Energy and Transportation committees on Thursday urged the Obama administration to take “prompt and decisive” action following a number of train derailments involving crude oil shipments, including a fiery explosion in North Dakota last month and an explosion that killed 47 people in Canada last year.

Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., called the recent derailments alarming and said the administration should evaluate whether federal rules adequately address the risks of carrying crude oil by rail.

The oil boom in the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana has reduced the nation's reliance on imported oil and brought thousands of jobs. But as companies increasingly rely on trains instead of pipelines to get that oil to refineries in lucrative coastal markets in the United States and Canada, public safety in communities bisected by rail lines has become a major concern.

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