In this week's news update, a federal investigation determined the derailment in Montana last week wasn't caused by excessive speed, and a new Oklahoma bill prevents cities and counties from banning fracking.
Federal officials say a train that derailed and spilled 35,000 gallons of oil in northwestern Montana on July 16 was traveling within recommended speed limits.
The train, loaded with crude from North Dakota, was traveling 44 miles per hour before the wreck, the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration said. Officials say the maximum authorized speed in the area is 45 mph.
A total of 22 cars on the Burling Northern Santa Fe Railway train derailed near the small town of Culbertson. The accident caused a temporary evacuation of nearby homes and a camp for oilfield workers.
The railroad company says the stretch of track where the accident occurred is inspected at least four times a week.
Rail Companies Reminded of Rules
The Federal Railroad Administration sent notifications to railroads sending oil from the Bakken Shale by rail reminding them of their responsibility to give advance traffic notices.
The administration sent the notification to remind the railroads of their obligation to notify state and tribal governments in advance of shipments. Since May 2014, companies delivering more than 35 tankers of Bakken crude by rail are required to give notification.
“The Federal Railroad Administration will continue with random spot checks and regular compliance audits to ensure that states, local communities and first responders have the information necessary to respond to a possible accident,” the administration says.
Oklahoma Prevents Cities, Counties from Banning Fracking Operations
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill May 29 preventing cities and counties in her state from banning hydraulic fracturing within their boundaries.
The bill prohibits cities and towns from banning operations such as drilling, fracking, water disposal, recovery operations and pipeline infrastructure.
The law will go into effect 90 days after the signing. The law allows municipalities and counties to enact “reasonable” regulations concerning road use, traffic, noise and odors incidental to oil and gas operation. It also allows cities to set fencing requirements around oil and gas drilling sites and establish setback requirements for how closely wells can be near homes or businesses.