Going off the tracks: Obama’s thinking on transporting oil safely makes no sense

Watertown Daily Times | March 3, 2015 | Editorial

The image of freight trains engulfed in flames following accidents has prompted federal officials to explore the option of mandating stricter safety requirements for railcars transporting oil. 

Tougher rules may benefit communities affected by train derailments down the road. But the prospect of trains leaking crude oil while being consumed by fire should have inspired President Barack Obama to reconsider his recent veto of a bill passed earlier this year by Congress to allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to go forward.

Mr. Obama said he rejected the bill because federal agencies need more time to study the issue. The problem with his argument is that he’s been dragging his feet on this this for more than five years while it’s been under government review. Just how much time does the president believe needs to pass before he has sufficient information to make an informed decision on this proposal?

Concerns expressed by environmentalists over the Keystone XL pipeline are valid. Oil from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin in Alberta, Canada, is one of the dirtiest types there is and requires a more complicated refinement process. And we as a society must start moving away from our reliance on fossil fuels as they significantly contribute to climate change.

But the Transportation Department sent a draft of proposed rules last month to representatives of the Obama administration to tighten safety rules for trains transporting oil. It’s clear, then, that government officials realize that oil will be transported throughout the United States one way or another. If Mr. Obama is considering advancing this proposal for stricter regulations, he also must admit that killing the Keystone XL pipeline won’t stop the transportation of crude oil one iota.

The only question left, therefore, is how to do this in the safest manner. There is substantial evidence to show that pipelines are a much safer way to move oil from one point to the next.

It’s not that pipelines don’t come with their own risks. But statistics show they don’t have nearly the risks that trains or ships have.

With the frightful potential of another environmental catastrophe, Mr. Obama’s position falls apart at its origin. He’s looking for a way to make the transportation of oil safer, yet he vetoed a project that moves oil in the safest known manner. What’s wrong with this picture?

http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/opinion/going-off-the-tracks-obamas-thinking-on-transporting-oil-safely-makes-no-sense-20150303

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Going off the tracks: Obama’s thinking on transporting oil safely makes no sense
PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy
PAUSE works to promote safe, sustainable energy and environmental justice.  We aim to engage the greater public to stop the fossil fuel industry's assault on the people of Albany and our environment.