Press Release

Forgotten Regulatory Cargo: The Importance of Regulatory Focus After the Norfolk Southern Derailment

In the month since the Norfolk Southern freight train derailment, lawmakers and the administration have already begun to propose various measures in response—most of which would not have addressed the primary problems that caused the disaster. In a new insight, Director of Regulatory Policy Dan Goldbeck cautions policymakers against pushing through such expansive, and largely unrelated policy proposals, and identifies measures already in the regulatory pipeline that may help prevent or mitigate similar incidents in the future.

Key points:

  • In determining a policy response to the damage wreaked by the recent Norfolk Southern freight train derailment and gas release, policymakers should focus on the specific issues that caused the derailment, rather than a laundry list of tangentially related regulatory measures.
  • Based upon preliminary findings from relevant agencies, the primary area on which policymakers should concentrate is how rail operators manage and disclose the unique safety risks involved in transporting hazardous materials.
  • There are already multiple measures in the regulatory pipeline that could potentially address the safety risks involved, but for unclear reasons, recent administrations have taken virtually no substantive action.

Read the analysis