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The PJ Tatler

Bridget Johnson


January 10, 2014 - 8:05 am

Two Senate Democrats have demanded an investigation into the safety of oil transport in the United States after two derailments in the past two weeks.

Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) made the request to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz after a July derailment in Quebec that killed 47, a November derailment of an oil shipment in Alabama that caused explosions, last week’s North Dakota derailment that required 1,500 people near the fire be evacuated, and another Canadian derailment and fire this week near the Maine border.

The rail accidents could give ammunition to politicians wanting to decrease production of fossil fuels.

Given the growth of the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota, the senators wrote, “the federal government must have a thorough understanding of the risks to communities near active oil train routes, as well as the current and future volumes of oil being transported by rail.”

They asked the Government Accountability Office last year to examine “the impact of shale oil and gas development on transportation infrastructure and safety,” and are still awaiting the GAO’s findings.

Rockefeller and Wyden want an investigation begun to “thoroughly understand the current and future volumes of crude oil that will be shipped on railroads; evaluate the crudes to understand whether they require special precautions and handling; evaluate and update safety requirements to ensure they adequately address the risks of carrying crude oil; and finalize DOT’s rule implementing the rail risk reduction program that was signed into law in 2008.”

“The recent derailments and accidents involving crude oil are alarming and demand increased vigilance. We urge you to work together to quickly resolve issues with the transportation of crude oil in order to protect our communities, and prevent any further disasters,” the senators wrote.

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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All Comments   (3)
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Bakken and Alberta.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This is why we build pipelines.

This is what happens when the Obama administration uses energy and environmental policy decisions to steer business to their big dollar supporters (Berkshire - Hathaway owns Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad) who are profiting mightily from the new business. Cheers -

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The light crude from this area has a much lower flash point than most petroleum has. That's a genuine issue and we've had a couple of serious accidents related to the lower flashpoint. Serious indeed -- one cost nearly 50 Canadians their lives.
Fans of energy development would want the development, including transportation, to be as safe as reasonably possible. There's a genuine issue here; we should get ahead of it before the nannies use it to block development.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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