VIDEO: Ricketts: Renewable Fuels the “Here and Now Solution” for Freight Rail, Not Electrification
July 27, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Pete Ricketts (R-NE) highlighted the efforts of railroads to reduce emissions while supporting the economy. Ricketts emphasized the important role biofuels play in reducing emissions while utilizing existing infrastructure.
“In some cases, renewable diesel and biodiesel can reduce carbon emissions by 25%,” Ricketts said. “Utilizing more renewable diesel and biodiesel is a win-win scenario. Renewable diesel and biodiesel are produced from agricultural by-products… Creating value through by-products sustains value for farmers across the country, decreases emissions, and supports renewable refining jobs across rural America. Renewable fuels are the here and now solution to maintain rail efficiency, while decreasing emissions.
Amid ongoing efforts to push toward the electrification of our entire rail system, Ricketts also called attention to the concerns and high cost of this federal regulation-driven approach.
“The deployment of unique locomotive technology (such as all-electric trains) would creative captive fleets that serve small geographic regions, harming the efficiency of railroad operations and disrupting entire supply chains,” Ricketts continued. “State and federal regulations cannot put the cart in front of the horse when it comes to reliability and safety.”
Ricketts also specifically highlighted the work Nebraska’s railroads are doing to innovate.
“I am supportive of, and excited for, the industry to lead innovation in this space,” said Senator Ricketts. “North Platte, Nebraska is home to Bailey Yard, the world’s largest classification yard. The Bailey Yard is responsible for sorting and building trains, covering 2,850 acres and including more than 300 track miles. The Bailey Yard will actually be home to four Battery Electric Locomotives in the coming years, where the feasibility, safety, and reliability will be put to the test through Nebraska’s hot summers and cold winters. This kind of industry-led innovation will ensure that our rail industry can make decisions that best support their workers, customers, and the supply chain, as well as the whole.”
Ricketts’ comments came during a Committee on Environment and Public Works Hearing entitled “Cleaner Trains: Opportunities for Reducing Emissions from America’s Rail Network.”
In Nebraska, 34.5 million tons of freight originated by rail in 2021 alone. The rail industry employs over 8,000 Nebraskans. On one gallon of fuel, a train can move one ton of freight nearly 500 miles, on average. Rail only accounts for 1.7% of emissions across the entire transportation sector. U.S. Railroads are also working with locomotive manufacturers and refiners to test higher percentage blends of low-carbon fuels, including biodiesel and renewable diesel, which could result in substantial greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
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