More than 11.5 billion gallons of oil moved by rail over the last year from Canadian and Great Plains oil fields to refineries on the East and Gulf coasts. Some of the 400,000 tank cars carrying that oil didn't make it. They derailed and, in some cases exploded, taking lives and causing significant environmental damage.

Three major derailments have occurred in Pennsylvania, most significantly near a heavily traveled section of the Schuylkill Expressway in Philadelphia.

Short-term and long-term steps are needed to improve rail safety to protect millions of people who live near the rail lines that carry oil.

Congress must act soon on a short-term measure by passing the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill. THUD, as it is known, includes funds to hire 20 additional hazardous materials inspectors and increase automated rail inspections.

The urgent need is not hypothetical. Congress should pass THUD.