Skip to comments.Lac-Megantic inferno could boost Keystone XL in pipeline debate
Posted on 07/11/2013 11:39:50 AM PDT by thackney
The deadly explosion of a derailed train carrying crude oil in the remote town of Lac-Megantic, Que., is likely to spark fresh arguments in the rancorous debate over the safety of the Keystone XL pipeline.
"TransCanada and the other pipeline proponents are going to try to use this (accident) to boost their case, but it's a real double-edged sword for them," Keith Steward, the climate and energy co-ordinator at Greenpeace in Toronto, said. "Pipelines and rail both have safety issues and both can be a hell of a lot safer than they are today."
The recent boom in oil production in both Canada and the United states has resulted in an enormous increase in crude oil shipments by rail as train companies try to fill a void cause by the slow pace of pipeline construction. Railways claim their services are more flexible, safer and in some cases cheaper than pipelines.
Rail shipments have increased enormously since 2008 when 9,500 carloads were shipped, according to the American Association of Railroads, which monitors both Canadian and U.S. rail traffic. Last year, crudeoil shipments topped 230,000 carloads and that figure is expected to jump again this year with first quarter shipments already at 97,000.
Large pipeline spills of diluted oilsands bitumen in Arkansas and Michigan have fuelled opposition to the Keystone. But train accidents have endangered lives and contaminated the environment in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and now Quebec, intensifying the debate.
"People think rail is costless until something like this happens," said John Stephenson, a Toronto-based fund manager with First Asset Investment Management Inc. "This is another data point that shows how much costlier and riskier rail is compared to pipelines and will probably move Canada closer to having an energy strategy."
Each side claims a better safety record.
TransCanada says rail transportation is 10 times more accident prone than pipelines and creates three times more climate change pollution. The company refused to comment on the possible impact of the Quebec derailment on the Keystone XL debate, other than to express sorrow for the community, adding that it awaits a "full and thorough investigation."
"It's been a real shame that a lot of the public and especially the activists have pushed the public to sway so much from pipelines which are likely much, much safer over time," said Arthur Salzer, chief executive of Northland Wealth Management. "It is going to be something that's going to weigh on the public's mind."
The Association of American Railroads claims exactly the opposite: rail is 10 times safer.
It says last year the percentage of oil spilled by pipelines was 10 times that of railroads and the rate of rail spills was less than half the rate of pipelines.
The AAR says that over the last 10 years, rail had 35 incidents where the spill was more than five gallons while pipelines had 1,784. In total, pipelines spilled 474,441 barrels of crude compared with 2,268 barrels from 2002 to 2012 from rail cars.
Brigham McCown, a hazardous material transportation expert and former administrator of the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, told Postmedia News "rail cannot come close to matching the safety record of pipelines."
He said U.S. federal government statistics show pipelines are 16 times safer than rail and 189 times safer than commercial motor vehicles in shipping crude oil comparing freight tons shipped.
The pipeline “debate” is not about a pipeline. It’s not about the environment as pipelines crisscross the United States and there hasn’t been anything like the disaster the Left predicts. It’s about keeping oil costs high. It’s about keeping jobs out of the US. It’s about keeping people poor so they don’t use “too many resources.”
You can have a leak or explosion along a stretch of pipeline out in the middle of the North Dakota prairie.
You can have a leak or explosion aboard a train or truck smack dab in the middle of a town of 6000 people.
derailed train owned by Chicago based company ,Hmmmmm
Warren Buffett will get his choo-choos
Warren Buffett will have to increase his contribution to dumBO.