TFI Hails House Approval of Rail PTC Deadline Extension, Urges Senate to Pass Companion Legislation

Senate is Now Urged to Act Quickly

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October 28, 2015
Senate is Now Urged to Act Quickly

Washington, D.C. – The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) lauded members of the U.S. House of Representatives for today’s passage of  The Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2015 (H.R. 3819), legislation to extend the deadline for implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) on our nation’s rail system. The bill extends the December 31, 2015, deadline for the railroads to implement PTC until December of 2018.  The Senate must now approve a PTC extension by Oct. 31, in order to avoid a devastating disruption to fertilizer shipments to the nation’s farmers. 

“TFI extends sincere thanks to Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio and Representatives Mike Quigley and Dan Newhouse for their leadership,” said TFI President Chris Jahn.  “As a result of today’s action, farmers are one step closer to knowing they will have the nutrients that make bountiful harvests possible.”  

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.

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.

“Swift Senate action is now of the utmost urgency,” continued Jahn.  “Our nation’s trucking industry simply does not have the capacity to add the 64,000 trucks needed to make up for the loss of ammonia fertilizer shipments by rail. Any delay in extending the PTC deadline puts the fertilizer industry and its farmer customers at risk.”