State lawmakers seek to override oil train safety veto

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Several state lawmakers and members of the public gathered in Teaneck Tuesday to call on the New Jersey Legislature to overturn Gov. Chris Christie’s conditional veto of the Oil Train Safety Bill.

The bill would have required the railroad companies to disclose the routing and volume of oil shipments. But the governor vetoed the bill after urging by the railroads that had concerns about national security.

Many of these trains carry millions of gallons of crude oil through densely populated towns like Teaneck. Activists say that the trains threaten the state’s water supply and all the residents who live near the tracks in the event of an accidental spill or explosive derailment.

Some of the tracks are just 50 yards away from Teaneck’s Temple Emeth.

“We're right in ‘ground zero’ as they call it. It’s just across the road essentially. It's scary,” says Paul Kaufman, past president of congregation social action committee for the temple.

State Sen. Loretta Weinberg was among those at the rally Tuesday. She says that she supports the bill, which also would have required rail companies to have response and cleanup action plans in case of an accident.

"This is only about safety. It is about letting the people know, the first responders know, what's going by here,” Weinberg says.

The governor cited the FBI and Homeland Security identifying trains as potential targets for domestic and international terrorism as the reason for his veto, and has advised the Legislature to revise the bill and send it back to him.

But the governor’s opponents say that they believe he is bowing down to oil company interests.

“When people use terrorism as an excuse, so they don't have to protect our safety, that's immoral,” says Paula Rogovin, with the Coalition to Ban Unsafe Oil Trains.

The state Senate is set to vote on the matter this Friday.

The Legislature has never been able to overturn one of Gov. Christie’s vetoes.

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