There was another oil train derailment this week – this time near Galena, Illinois – producing another explosion and smoke cloud that’s being plastered all over the media.
It was the third such derailment in three weeks.
Left-wing activists have taken to using the term “bomb trains” and are now blaming public officials for not seeking regulatory retribution for the derailments from the oil industry. Which is certainly convenient, for them, I suppose.
They think the answer to oil train derailments is to stop producing oil.
But really, it’s President Barack Obama who has created this situation for them to exploit. Not so much because the administration has balked at tougher regulations for oil-by-rail shipments, as Reuters reported recently, but because Obama’s intransigence on energy infrastructure has created a shipping bottleneck that has left our rails overrun.
As oil production has boomed in America, so has oil by rail shipments as this graph from the American Association of Railroads Shows:
The reason for this is that pipeline infrastructure wasn’t in place to take oil from plays like North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields and bring it to market. So, while we’ve been waiting for the pipelines to catch up, oil producers have relied on rail.
But it’s clear that our rail infrastructure wasn’t ready for this explosion (sorry, bad word) in oil shipments. We badly need alternatives, but that’s where the environmental zealots come in. Led by our zealot-in-chief Barack Obama they’re intent on ensuring that pipeline infrastructure can’t catch up.
It’s not just Obama’s intransigence on the Keystone XL pipeline. While the 100,000 barrels per day of capacity that pipeline would be important infrastructure for the North Dakota oil fields, it’s not a silver bullet that would solve this problem.
But the blockade on Keystone is symbolic of the larger fight over pipelines.
The Sandpiper line, which would run from Tioga, North Dakota, through Minnesota down to Wisconsin is currently being blocked by activists in Minnesota. A pipeline taking oil from the Bakken north into Canada will likely face the same obstacles from the federal government that the Keystone pipeline has.
The activists don’t want pipelines, but they also gleefully report every new oil train derailment, leveraging them into calls for action on further restrictions to oil production.
Which is really their goal. Choking off oil production. They don’t want pipelines, and that means more oil trains on our creaking rail infrastructure.
Every time an oil train derails and explodes we ought to be pointing our fingers at President Barack Obama and others who have created this infrastructure bottleneck in the first place.