Make shippers liable

Times Union | June 21, 2015 | LTE by Nancy Casler

Brian Nearing, in his article “Investment chief wants oil train answers,” June 8, reports state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli sent letters to 14 publicly traded energy companies that our state pension fund is invested in, asking for their plans for oil train risk reduction and insurance coverage.

The crude-by-rail operation is rife with risk factors, including environmental, public health, property and terrorism. Considering that rail companies operate on a common carrier mandate with no choice but to accept any hazmat cargo that can legally be shipped, the liability for such shipments absolutely should be borne by the shippers themselves. Rail shipments of Bakken crude oil are now effectively traveling uninsured against losses that could be generated by a catastrophic accident in any of the population centers along their routes, leaving railroads and the public to assume financial risk.

While the logistics of rail transport are complex, a formula for shipper liability must be created. In New York state, we’re required to have insurance as part of the cost of owning and driving a vehicle. Bakken crude oil shippers should be required to operate on the same model.

Comptroller DiNapoli is right to be concerned about this, and I commend him for his efforts to ensure that our tax dollars are invested at the lowest possible risk to our retirement system. Let’s look to Lac-Mégantic as a prime example of why New York state should not be investing in companies that cannot or will not assume liability for crude-by-rail accidents.

Nancy Casler


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@PAUSEnergy tweeted this page. 2015-06-23 10:41:21 -0400
And another LTE, this time from @ncasler40: "Make shippers liable"
PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy posted about Make shippers liable on PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy's Facebook page 2015-06-23 10:40:49 -0400
And another LTE, this time from Nancy Casler: "Make shippers liable"
PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy
PAUSE is a grassroots group of individuals who have come together to promote safe, sustainable energy and fight for environmental justice. We engage the greater public to stop the fossil fuel industry’s assault on the people of Albany and our environment.