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Susan Casey-Lefkowitz

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The Quebec Rail Tragedy Is No Time to Debate Pipelines

Posted: 07/10/2013 12:12 pm

Lac Megantic Train Explosion Horizontal

In a tragic weekend rail accident, tanker cars carrying crude oil broke loose and raced into the small town of Lac-Mégantic, near the border Quebec shares with Maine, where they derailed and several exploded, killing at least 15 people with many others still missing.

Our hearts go out to the victims of this disaster and their families. This is a time for grieving – for the people of Lac-Mégantic, for all Canadians, and for all Americans.

Americans and Canadians are neighbours. We are allies. We are friends. And when tragedy visits Canada, it touches our country as well.

Unfortunately, even as investigators work to learn what caused this terrible accident, proponents of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline are using this tragedy to press for their project. That is regrettable.

If anything, this accident signals the need for a strategy to reduce the risks and hazards of transporting fossil fuels, and an honest debate about a future that doesn’t expand our use of oil.

If allowed by the Obama administration, the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would bring tar sands crude from Canada to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast and, from there, to overseas markets.

It would drive expansion of tar sands production and use.

It would increase the North American carbon footprint, worsening climate chaos, while transporting huge volumes of tar sands crude through our communities, across our waterways and over our heartland ranches and farms.

There is a better way to secure our energy future. A better way for Canadians, a better way for Americans, a better way for both of us to work together.

The question before the administration is not whether tar sands crude should be shipped by pipeline or by rail.

The question is whether we will deepen our reliance on the dirty fuels of the past, those that contribute to climate change and put our people and property at risk, or whether we will invest in the clean energy solutions of the future.

There is no risk-free way to transport hazardous crude.

Every means of transport – rail, pipeline, tanker or truck – puts us at risk, as the horrible accident at Lac-Mégantic and the heartbreaking loss it has left in its wake so tragically underscores. 

As we struggle, on both sides of the border, to comprehend this disaster, perhaps we can honor the memory of those we have lost by working together to find a way to reduce the risk, hazard and damage that comes from our reliance on fossil fuels, and create a cleaner, safer more sustainable future for our children.

 

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  • Work continues at the crash site of the train derailment and fire in Lac-Megantic, Que., on Tuesday, July 16, 2013, that left 37 people confirmed dead and another 13 missing and presumed dead.

  • Work continues at the crash site of the train derailment and fire Tuesday, July 16, 2013 in Lac-Megantic, Que. that left 37 people confirmed dead and another 13 missing and presumed dead.

  • Work continues at the crash site of the train derailment and fire Tuesday, July 16, 2013 in Lac-Megantic, Que. that left 37 people confirmed dead and another 13 missing and presumed dead.

  • A fireman walks through the debris as work continues at the crash site of the train derailment and fire Tuesday, July 16, 2013 in Lac-Megantic, Que. that left 37 people confirmed dead and another 13 missing and presumed dead.

  • A levelled building is seen in the foreground the day after a train derailed causing explosions of railway cars carrying crude oil Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Lac Megantic, Que.

  • Canadian Prime Minister Harper, right, surveys the scene Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Lac Megantic, Quebec, as firefighters continue to spray derailed tanker cars. A runaway train derailed Saturday causing explosions of railway cars carrying crude oil and destroyed part of the downtown area of Lac Megantic.

  • Prime Minister Harper, centre, talks with firefighters Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Lac Megantic, Quebec. A runaway train derailed Saturday exploding tanker cars carrying crude oil and destroying part of the downtown area of Lac Megantic.

  • Prime Minister Stepen Harperwaves to people as he visits the site Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Lac Megantic, Quebec, where a runaway train derailed Saturday. Tanker cars carrying oil exploded after the derailment and destroyed the business district in Lac Megantic.

  • Firefighters keep watering railway cars the day after a train derailed causing explosions of railway cars carrying crude oil Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Lac Megantic, Que.

  • The downtown of Lac Megantic, Que. is seen Sunday, July 7, 2013, the day after a train derailed causing explosions of railway cars carrying crude oil.

 
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