Some lawmakers who voted against the Keystone XL pipeline are probably back-peddling now. As we reported in previous Keystone pipeline articles the best way to stop fiery oil-tank rail car derailments is to cut down on the congestion. This is best done using oil pipelines.
In only the last three months there have been 5 rail car derailments involving tank cars carrying crude oil. The latest catastrophe was carrying Bakken crude which derailed in North Dakota. The shipment couldn’t even make it out of the state.
So now groups like the Sierra Club are calling for a ban on oil transportation by rail cars. So if green groups oppose both rail and pipeline transport what can energy companies do? This is ridiculous as we’ve pointed out in previous articles. From a November 2014 Keystone Pipeline article:
The truth is very simple; pipelines are how most of our domestic energy is delivered for processing and distribution. Without this network of pipelines all these green-crazed reporters wouldn’t be so warm and comfy this winter — or enjoy the gasoline they pump into their cars. They must think energy companies sprinkle magic fairy dust to achieve the delivery of the massive amount of energy we consume each and every day.
Since the construction of new pipelines has become a legislative nightmare the railroad industry has been forced to pick up the slack. And now the incidence of tanker derailments has steadily climbed.
So to fix the problem the Feds have instituted a bevy of new regulations for railroad oil transportation. However, most experts agree they will have little or no effect on the occurrence of the fiery accidents. Some of the new regulations include speed limits of 50 MPH, phasing out old tank cars and the addition of advanced braking systems (known as Electronically Controlled Pneumatic brakes or ECP’s) by 2021.
The 50 MPH speed limit regulation will do little according to experts. This is because many trains carrying oil tanks have already reduced speeds below 50 MPH. In fact, none of the major derailments in the last 2 years involved any train going over 50 MPH. It was reported that the train in the recent North Dakota derailment was traveling just 35 MPH.
Some of the regulations make sense like phasing out older thinner-shelled tank cars with newer models with thicker shells and thermal shielding. In the case of the latest derailment in North Dakota these new tank cars may have prevented the explosions that occurred. However, all these new regulations do not tackle the real problem with the rail system: old railroad tracks. The problem isn’t old tankers, bad brakes or high speeds. The problem is a crumbling, overused and exhausted railroad system.
When it all is said and done, the eco-groups can complain all they want but energy transport must go on. The decision is how it should be accomplished. Pipelines make sense and move product efficiently and cost effectively. They would also ease railway congestion and the incidence of these fiery accidents. Fewer tankers on the tracks equals less derailments.
It sounds like common sense to me. Keystone XL pipeline anyone?