The U.S. is experiencing a boom in oil production, but the poor condition of railroad cars used to transport crude oil to refineries has led environmental groups to sue the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) over its regulations. The tanker cars are old and weakened, resulting in ruptures and an increasing number of explosions; the worst thus far occurred in Quebec in 2013 with 47 deaths. The DOT has proposed improvements, but the oil and railroad industries are pushing back, and environmental groups want more. Meanwhile, FELA attorneys, acting under the Federal Employers' Liability Act, are working to protect railroad employees who must carry out their jobs amid dangerous conditions. In 2008, the DOT reported transportation of 9,500 railroad carloads of crude oil throughout the U.S. By 2013, that number rose to 415,000. The oil-rich Bakken area of North Dakota is responsible for a large portion of increased domestic production, and the benefits to industries and consumers are undeniable. Yet the Transportation Department warns that Bakken oil is more combustible than other crude oil -- a claim the oil industry denies -- and the DOT-111 tanker cars carrying it are not design or in the best condition to do so safely. Increasingly deadly consequences prompted two environmental groups to file a petition in July of 2014, calling for an emergency order to stop use of DOT-111 rail cars for transporting Bakken oil. The DOT did not respond, and Earth Justice filed a lawsuit in September on behalf of the Sierra Club and Forest Ethics. The DOT denied the original petition two months later. All stakeholders agree that replacing the railroad cars is necessary, but disagreement surrounds proposed timelines; safety regulations for new tankers; which group will pay for updates; and even the speeds at which trains should travel through populated areas. The effects on industry, residents and the environment are well noted, but there is little discussion about at-risk railroad employees who transport the volatile substance. Train accident attorneys are following ongoing developments in order to best defend their clients who are injured. One major issue is the Transportation Department's two-year timeline to phase out the old rail cars; they may also allow six years for deployment of brand new models. Environmental groups believe that is too generous and that it will put towns and cities near railways at risk. Yet the oil industry wants at least seven and as many as 10 years for replacements, saying that anything faster could affect overall production and cost consumers billions. The American Petroleum Institute says it can only replace 6,400 rail cars each year out of 68,000 needed. The Association of American Railroads (AAR) wants more time as well but disagrees with the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, representing refineries, about various safety measures. One disagreement involves the thickness of tankers' outer shells, and the arguments exist over a 1/16-inch difference. Meanwhile, the railroads want the oil companies to pay for the changes, and the oil companies want the railroads to pay. Either way, the costs will eventually reach consumers. There is also disagreement about rail speeds in urban areas. Railroads voluntarily slowed to 40 mph from 50 mph near cities, but experts believe 30 mph is safer. At that speed, the AAR says that lost time and lowered capacity would cost too much, and they also fear losing business to trucking if speeds are reduced further. The increasing number of tanker explosions put railroad employees and residents near railways at the most risk. Ongoing agency and industry disagreements delay safer conditions, and while the DOT lawsuit may help, resolution will still take time. A railroad worker injury lawyer can assist any affected employee in the mean time, and members of the public can also seek specialized legal representation.