oil transport safety
We can continue to resist and block pipelines like Keystone XL, in spite of their impressive safety record, but we cannot avoid the inevitable consequences of such resistance: more oil moved by train and by truck. Let's choose safety instead, and stop paying so much undeserved attention to environmentalist demagoguery. Accidents can't be avoided entirely, but there is a simple way to limit this kind of incident: Stop opposing pipeline projects. Oil is going to be with us for many decades to come, so we should use the safest transportation means we can whenever possible, and that means pipelines.
In the wake of the Lac-Mégantic oil-by-rail disaster, when a train carrying crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken field exploded in Quebec, some people began to characterize Bakken crude oil as "uniquely flammable," with an implication that new rail car standards might be required to move the material.
Elizabeth May has chosen to respond to my critique of her Green Party website post "4 facts about Keystone XL" here on the
The HuffPost blog from the Fraser Institute's Senior Director, Natural Resource Studies, Kenneth Green, set out to make me look uninformed based on my submission to the U.S. State Department on the proposed Keystone pipeline. From his first words, it was pretty clear he didn't grasp the concept of writing a letter.
Recently, Green Party leader Elizabeth May orchestrated an open letter to United States Secretary of State John Kerry, urging the U.S. to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. In her note, Ms. May states that she sent Mr. Kerry "4 facts about Keystone XL." Unfortunately, two of Ms. May's facts aren't actually facts, and two of her facts are so lacking in context as to constitute merely factoids.
Yet another train derailment involving petroleum products has re-invigorated the debate over how we transport oil in Canada. Reflexive opposition to pipelines flies in the face of the data, which shows that pipelines are safer modes of transport than railways or roadways. Environmentalists engaging in anti-pipeline crusades risk causing more harm than good as their pipeline-stalling actions divert oil transport to rail and road that would otherwise be transported more safely by pipeline.
The federal transport minister is considering a number of changes to how crude oil is transported across Canada by rail. The
We examined data pertaining to the safety of three modes of oil transport in North America and found that on an apples-to-apples basis, transporting a billion tons of oil over a mile of distance by pipeline has a very low likelihood of leakage -- less than one incident per billion ton-miles. The risk of a leak by rail is twice as high.