…and insure that oil from the Bakken field in North Dakota can be transported almost solely by train. Because oil can spill out of a pipeline, you see. And small pipeline spills are really dangerous. Meanwhile, nothing bad ever happens when you move oil by train.
Except when it does, it really does…
A Quebec town devastated when a runaway oil tanker train exploded killing at least five people braced for a rising death toll Monday as fire crews tried to reach the hardest hit areas where about 40 people were believed to be missing.
All but one of the train’s 73 tanker cars were carrying oil when they somehow came loose early Saturday morning, sped downhill nearly seven miles into the town of Lac-Megantic, near the Maine border, and derailed, with at least five of the cars exploding.
Firefighters on Monday were focusing their efforts on two oil-filled cars dousing them with water and foam in an attempt to keep them from overheating and exploding.
Quebec provincial police Sgt. Benoit Richard said Monday morning there was no searching overnight because the situation remained too dangerous.
He said only a small part of the devastated scene has been searched as firefighters made sure all flames were out.
Many of those missing were believed to have been drinking at a popular downtown bar when the explosions occurred, he said. Rescuers had not yet reached the night spot, Richard said.
And yes, the oil on that train was from the Bakken formation. It was traveling to a refinery in New Brunswick.
In 2009, only 500 carloads of oil was shipped on Canada’s rails. This year it’s estimated that 140,000 carloads will travel on those rails. And the Lac-Megantic disaster is the fourth one involving oil and a train derailment this year; none of the others were anywhere near this bad.
The fact is, whether the Keystone XL pipeline is built or not, that train probably is still carrying that oil to that refinery in New Brunswick. Until a pipeline is built moving Bakken oil eastward, it will have to move by train to get there.
The issue is whether stopping Keystone doesn’t just open up little towns in the United States to the same kind of potential tragedy as the wiped-out folks in Lac-Megantic have endured.
And it should be remembered that if you want to move Bakken oil south to the American refineries in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, until Keystone is built you’ve got no choice but to move it by train.
And specifically, via the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad, which is owned by our president’s buddy and political backer Warren Buffett and isn’t unknown for safety mishaps and cover-ups after the fact.
BNSF is making a killing moving Bakken Oil southward. From a March Wall Street Journal article…
BNSF Railway Company Chairman and Chief Executive Matt Rose said he sees strong growth for transporting crude oil by rail.
“It is an enormous opportunity,” he told The Wall Street Journal.
He predicted that by the end of 2013, crude shipments on all U.S. railroads could reach 700,000 barrels a day, up 40% from current levels. In another 18 months, he said that figure could rise another 43% to 1 million barrels a day.
BNSF, which is a wholly owned unit of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., is experiencing sharp increases in crude shipments on its network. The company said crude accounted for less than 0.1% of its overall traffic in 2010, but that had increased to 1.7% in 2012. In January 2013, 2.7% of its overall rail volume was crude oil, according to a BNSF spokesman.
And a couple of more graphs which say an awful lot…
Some of the increase may be temporary until pipelines are permitted and built, Mr Rose said, but some of the increased traffic won’t go away.
He cited the example of refineries on the East Coast where litigation and population density make new pipelines difficult to build. In these cases, crude shipments by rail may become a long-term business, he said.
Right, because environmental groups like to block pipeline construction.
And who benefits?
The railroads. Particularly the railroad owned by the guy Barack Obama gets a ton of money from. Who happens to be the same guy with substantial investments both in the Bakken and the tar sands in Alberta, another oil patch his railroad does an enormous amount of business in.
Meanwhile, if your town is along a rail line moving Bakken oil, you’re in danger of being the next Lac-Megantic. Small danger, mind you – but significantly greater than the danger the Keystone XL pipeline would present.
And by the way, try not to forget that the Obama administration claimed it was “local opposition” which gummed up the works on Keystone XL’s approval. And that “local opposition” came from…where?
Nebraska. Where does Warren Buffett hang his hat?