The Fertilizer Institute Lauds House Introduction Of Critical Rail Transportation Bill

Without Extension of the PTC Deadline, Agriculture will be Gridlocked

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October 1, 2015
Without Extension of the PTC Deadline, Agriculture will be Gridlocked

Washington, D.C. – The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) today lauded House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leadership including Reps. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), Peter DeFazio (R-Ore.), Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) and Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), for introducing legislation to extend the deadline for implementation of Positive Train Control on our nation’s rail system.  The bill, H.R. 3651, the Positive Train Control Enforcement and Implementation Act, is a 3-year extension with potential for another 1-2 years if certain requirements are met. The bill is similar to legislation approved by the Senate earlier this year. 

Current law requires rail carriers to install Positive Train Control (PTC) technology by the end of this year.  PTC is a set of highly advanced technologies designed to make rail transportation even safer by automatically stopping a train before certain types of accidents occur. While significant progress has been made, the Association of American Railroads, the Government Accountability Office, and the Federal Railroad Administration have made it clear that the vast majority of rail carriers will not meet this deadline.  Rail carriers have indicated that, absent a PTC deadline extension, they will not ship certain materials – including anhydrous ammonia - on lines where PTC technology is not yet implemented.

“TFI thanks Reps. Shuster, DeFazio, Denham, and Capuano for their leadership on this pressing issue,” said TFI President Chris Jahn. “Absent Congressional action by Oct. 31, the fertilizer distribution system will be gridlocked. This in turn, will bring agricultural production and the U.S. economy to a grinding halt.”

Anhydrous ammonia is applied directly to crops, used in the production of phosphate fertilizers, and is the building block of all nitrogen fertilizers. Approximately 80 percent of all fertilizer used in the United States is affected by this issue. Farmers, by extension, will be hurt by the lack of availability of these necessary crop inputs. Research confirms that 40-60 percent of crop yields are attributable to the nutrient inputs of fertilizers.

A service stoppage would force fertilizer manufacturers to curtail or cease production.  Manufacturers have only limited storage capacity at their facilities, and therefore must ship anhydrous ammonia and other products year-round to continue production. Without access to rail transportation, on-site storage would quickly reach capacity.  Because ammonia facilities typically operate at full capacity, these production losses cannot be made up at a later date, and could result in nationwide shortages of crop nutrients.

In related news, 40 national, regional and state agriculture organizations, including TFI, today sent a letter to House and Senate leadership urging quick action on a PTC extension.

“We urge everyone whose business depends upon rail transportation to call their Congressman to urge speedy adoption of PTC extension legislation,” concluded Jahn.

 

The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) is the leading voice of the nation’s fertilizer industry. Tracing its roots back to 1883, TFI’s membership includes fertilizer producers, wholesalers, retailers and trading firms. TFI’s full-time staff, based in Washington, D.C., serves its members through legislative, educational, technical, economic information and public communication programs. Find more information about TFI online at TFI.org and follow us on Twitter at @Fertilizer_Inst. Learn more about TFI’s nutrient stewardship initiatives at nutrientstewardship.org and on Twitter at @4rnutrients.