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Enyart pushes safe-freight legislation

ST. LOUIS – U.S. Congressman Bill Enyart, D-Bellevile, met Monday with members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen’s 2014 Illinois State Legislative Board in St. Louis. He was greeted by the Carbondale Regional Manager for the group, Eric Bateman of Carterville.

“Our local engineers and trainmen play an important role in a variety of areas – public transportation, agriculture shipments, coal delivery, and many more,” said Enyart. “Today, I spoke with the brotherhood about a number of different legislative issues that affect rail workers – including the Safe Freight Act and the EPA’s newly proposed regulations on coal.”

Enyart co-sponsored the Safe Freight Act, H.R. 3040, would require two person crews when operating any freight train in the U.S. These crews would have one federally-certified locomotive engineer and one federally-certified conductor. The legislation is in response to an accident in Quebec in July 2013 where 47 people lost their lives. The bill would require rogue operators who do not currently follow the standard to comply. The bill is now in committee.

“It is also important to discuss the impact of the EPA’s proposed regulations against our coal industry,” Enyart added. “Hundreds of thousands of rail jobs are at stake if the rules are implemented. I encourage you and your coworkers to contact the EPA or my office during the public comment period to voice your concerns about the effect on this industry.”

Enyart addressed his opposition to the proposed Environmental Protection Agency rules limiting carbon emissions from U.S. power plants. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of railroad jobs are at stake as coal accounts for 44% of tonnage hauled by railroads – both from coal mines and to coal fired power plants.

Enyart also voiced his opposition to the automatic spending reductions known as the sequester, which has impacted retirement benefits paid to railroad retirees through the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board. He also took questions from the 40 Illinois delegates and reiterated his support for Amtrak and infrastructure funding for America’s rail industry.

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