MINNEAPOLIS -- The Bakken oil fields are a long way from Coon Rapids City Hall, but city leaders have North Dakota crude oil on their minds.
"The City of Coon Rapids has 60 to 70 train trips a day through the community, and many are these 100 to 120 unit tank cars hauling crude oil from North Dakota," Coon Rapids City Manager Steve Gatlin told KARE.
The Coon Rapids City Council is one of many governing bodies across the Midwest to pass a resolution urging federal rail regulators to adopt higher standards aimed at making oil tank cars more puncture proof.
Currently only 14,000 of the 92,000 tank cars in use in the US meet the newest standard for crashworthiness, according to a report from the Association of American Railroads.
Gatlin said the ideal situation would be for older cars to be retrofitted, especially in light of the surge in crude moving by rail.
"It doesn't do a lot of lot of good if you've got a train with some brand new cars that meet the new standard, and some that have not been retrofitted," he said.
"And the problem is, in a derailment, you don't always know exactly what you have."
The concern heightened for many in late December when tank cars burned about striking a cars from an oncoming grain train that derailed near Casselton North Dakota. Nobody was injured but hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil spilled.
"The train that blew up, that could've happened right in a town," US Sen. Amy Klobuchar told KARE.
"And look what happened, with that sad thing we saw in Canada, when the train went down and killed dozens of people."
Sen. Klobuchar has requested for a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the issue in hopes of getting federal railroad regulators back on track when it comes to boosting tank car standards, and other safety measures tied to oil and ethanol shipments by rail.
"It's a positive thing that we're getting more energy from home, but we see this coming and it's really important for the bureaucracy, which has been sitting on some of these rules, to move forward and get them done."
On Thursday the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that railroad operators be required to expand their hazardous materials route planning, to avoid moving crude oil through populated areas. The NTSB also advised audits of railroad companies' capacity to respond to spills and fires.
Canadian Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe both issued statements Thursday saying all the parties must work together to find workable solutions, and that includes the oil producers who actually own most of the tank cars.
The American Petroleum Industry also expressed willingness to work with railroads and regulators on changes that will meet their common goals when it comes to safety.
Of course, not everyone's worried about the influx of crude coming down the line. John Alden, a retired police officer who lives near the Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks in Coon Rapids, said he doesn't feel threatened by the new traffic.
"I mean we need oil, we need energy, and there's some danger, but there's some danger in everything," he said.
Alden was more bothered by the locomotive horns that used to wake him up in the middle of the night, and issue Coon Rapids spent many years fixing by creating "no horn" rail crossings in the area.
"They want to regulate everything so you're perfectly safe about everything," Alden said.
"I mean, that's not going to happen."