For our security against terrorist threats, the state shouldn’t force private freight railroad carriers to make railroad routes and precise content information available to the public.

By Peter Goelz

A news report from earlier this year shows that the much-maligned NJ Transit — which faces a joint hearing in Trenton this week — is refusing to share information on the state of bridges on its network.

“NJ Transit is in possession of documents containing information which, if disclosed, would jeopardize the safety and security of NJ Transit bridges,” says a letter from the transit agency in declining to yield the information to the public. The decision was approved by the current state Attorney General’s Office.

Their rationale is straightforward and sound, at least to those who work in transportation and security related fields: making this type of information widely available does far more potential harm than good, as those who need to know — state and federal officials, law enforcement and first responders — can easily acquire relevant materials through existing channels.

That is why the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as the report states, recommends that state supported passenger rail entities protect such information to help protect the general public from potentially catastrophic events. We don’t need to give terrorists targeting help to harm travelers and our infrastructure.

The state’s attorney general, and in turn, Gov. Phil Murphy, should extend such logic to a recurring effort led by state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck, to force private freight railroad carriers to make railroad routes and precise content information — including hazardous materials — available to the public in real time.

Total transparency in train routing to anybody at any time, as some advocate, would have catastrophic effects on security in the Garden State.

Weinberg and her supporters, such as the Coalition to Ban Unsafe Oil Trains, use the movement of crude oil in New Jersey as the crux to advance such ill-considered policy.

For six years now, proponents of the “transparency” bill have tried to force railroads to disclose information for all rail contents, not just crude oil. These efforts were twice vetoed with the understanding that potential terrorists could gain access to the schedules of our most volatile cargos.

It is unclear what Murphy thinks of the bill. Assuming the bill will once again clear the state Legislature, Murphy should keep a few things in mind.

Freight railroads are, …read more

Source:: New Jersey Real-Time News


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