A long and inglorious history
Even as insufficiently safe oil trains continue to rumble across the country, carrying billions of gallons of explosive oil, some railroads and governments want to deny the public information about the shipments.
For months, McClatchy newspapers have been trying to obtain information about oil shipments. Disturbingly, Pennsylvania's government is among those that has refused to provide that public information.
Norfolk Southern Railroad has asked state governments to agree to confidentiality agreements before providing data on oil shipments that the state governments then share with local first responders along the route. The railroad also has attempted in several courts to block the release of data, according to McClatchy. Pennsylvania requires local counties to sign confidentiality agreements before it provides local agencies with the information.
That is ridiculous. California, Washington, Illinois and Florida refused to agree to confidentiality agreements sought by railroads, and readily provided McClatchy with data on oil shipments.
There is no federal law or rule against disclosure, which is why Amtrak also has provided McClatchy with data on sections of track that are used jointly for passenger trains and oil shipments.
Pennsylvania has a long and inglorious history of bending to the desires of narrow industrial interests. It should abandon that course and provide the public with all of the appropriate data relative to dangerous rail shipments.