A House Republican suggested the Transportation Department is hiding a stealth global-warming policy behind the guise of a rail-safety crackdown.
Federal regulators are writing new safety standards for trains that carry crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken shale formation, part of a broader regulatory initiative that follows a string of derailments and explosions on trains shipping the fuel. The regulators have increased their focus on the flammability of the fuel, as well as other risks of moving it by rail.
But Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California sees an ulterior motive: an effort to cripple fossil-fuel development in the name of a global-warming "theory."
Rohrabacher, who has called global warming a "fraud," leveled the charge at senior Transportation Department regulator Timothy Butters during a House Science Committee hearing on oil from the Bakken formation, which is moving around North America by rail in large volumes.
The agency's efforts, Rohrabacher said, are "perhaps a facade to obtain what we clearly have as a goal of this administration, which is to reduce America's use of fossil fuel, even though it is now being presented to us as something about safety."
Rohrabacher accused Butters of refusing to answer direct questions during the hearing, during which panel Republicans challenged his department's flammability assessment of the Bakken crude.