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December 2007

House passes legislation on rail solid waste

The House of Representatives passed the Clean Railroads Act of 2007, legislation authored by United States Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and cosponsored by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), that will allow states to regulate solid waste processing facilities along rail lines. It was included as an amendment to larger rail safety legislation.

The amendment eliminates a loophole in federal law that prohibits states from enforcing environmental, health and safety regulations at these rail sites. This loophole has allowed railroad companies to pile trash, largely consisting of construction debris, at times two stories high.

“It is critical that we allow states to protect their residents through effective regulation of solid waste processing,” said Lautenberg.

The House’s vote to approve the amendment came one day after Sen. Lautenberg testified before a House Transportation and Infrastructure panel on regulation of these waste sites. At the hearing, he was joined by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ-06), the sponsor of the House version of the measure.

In September, the Senate passed a temporary measure authored by Senator Lautenberg to allow New Jersey to regulate some solid waste processing facilities on railroads. The measure was included in a one-year spending bill for transportation and housing programs which expires after one year.