This week, the Montana Public Service Commission voted 5 – 0 to reinforce the federal government’s management of the railroad safety. PSC spokesman Eric Sell explains.

"PSC directed staff to write and complete a rail safety risk assessment and an associated rail safety plan," said Sell. "We are hoping to have that done within the next six months and also to fill an empty spot that we have for rail safety inspectors here in the state from a recent retirement."

This move by the Public Service Commission could be seen as a response to a recent legislative Audit that took issue with the way the PSC had monitored railroad safety. When the state legislature begins its next session, the PSC may be asking the legislature for funds.

"Right now the commission is evaluating the rail safety program and seeing how we can improve it and if we need more resources to do so," Sell said. "If we do, the commission will determine whether or not they are going to the legislature during the 2017 session to request those funds."

The Federal Railroad Administration is tasked with managing railroad safety, but after 35,000 gallons of Bakken crude spilled near Culbertson last year state officials have become more wary.

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