Another Oil Train Explodes in Town; River Contaminated: Who Wants Keystone Now?

Posted: May 02, 2014 12:01 AM

Another major derailment of a train carrying oil through a town in the U.S. has caused the evacuation of 300 people, with oil washing into the James River in Virginia, which feeds into the Chesapeake Bay.

“A CSX train carrying crude oil derailed Wednesday afternoon in downtown Lynchburg, Va.,” reports Bloomberg, “prompting the evacuation of some 300 people. Six cars went off the tracks, and local news reports cite at least three breaches on a train carrying between 12 and 14 tank cars loaded with crude. Early videos and pictures posted by onlookers show plumes of black smoke billowing up from the crash. No injuries have been reported yet, although witnesses described a floor-shaking explosion that sent a fireball almost 200 feet into the air.”

So much for the “pipelines aren’t safe” argument that’s been delaying the obvious, easy choice to build the Keystone Pipeline.

Hmm, what’s safer? Oil that moves through a stationary pipeline, or oil packed into a 100 ton steel behemoth running at 50 mph on rails thinner than a man’s leg?

Or how about this: What’s cheaper? Oil running through a pipeline or oil running on a union-controlled railroad?

The Congressional Research Services (CRS) says that oil transported by rail, costs between $5-$10 per barrel more than oil transported by pipeline.

“Rail has also been critical to development of Canadian oil sands,” says CRS. “Although the vast majority of crude oil imports from Canada are delivered via existing pipeline, imports by rail are estimated to have increased from 1.6 million barrels in 2011 to 40 million barrels in 2013. Construction of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline could move a significant proportion of these shipments off the rails, as pipeline transportation is likely to cost less per barrel.”

And causes fewer 200-foot fireballs cascading through picturesque towns across Canada and the United States.

But this is an administration that would rather have freight trains full of crude oil derailing in Midwestern towns, while burning barrels of crude force residents to evacuate, than approve the job creation measure known as the XL Pipeline. The pipeline would transport oil less expensively, more safely and help fuel the ongoing energy revolution.

So of course, the administration is pretending nothing is happening.

As long as it doesn’t happen in the Boston-to-DC corridor, or anywhere inside California, it just doesn’t count to Obama.

I don't know about you, but the safety I'm most concerned with right now is preventing the ignition of small town people as freight trains of flammable liquids go through their cities.

That would be a big benefit of Keystone... you know, besides the jobs.

“Nonetheless, the increase in rail shipments of crude has raised safety and environmental concerns,” observes the CRS report. “These concerns have been underscored by a series of major incidents involving crude oil transportation by rail, including a catastrophic fire and explosion in Lac Mégantic, Quebec, in July 2013 and a derailment in Casselton, ND, in December 2013 that led to a mass evacuation. Consequently, government agencies in the United States and Canada are considering new regulations related to oil transport by rail.”

So plan on new costs at the pump, consumers, as regulators do something else for your own good.

But just don’t plan on the Keystone Pipeline.

That’s way too obvious a solution for an administration this obtuse.