Tag Archives: Crude by Rail

SACRAMENTO BEE: State seeks fee on dangerous chemicals crisscrossing California

Repost from the Sacramento Bee

State seeks fee on dangerous chemicals crisscrossing California

By Tony Bizjak, July 22, 2016 6:00AM

HIGHLIGHTS
• California officials say the state isn’t prepared to handle hazardous materials spills
• A new $45 fee on every rail car carrying dangerous substances will help beef up spill response

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    City proposes fining railroad for all oil and coal trains passing through

    Repost from The Columbian
    [Editor: Check out the Resolution to be considered by the Spokane City Council on Monday, July 25 (from the Council agenda).  The resolution begins: “A Resolution requesting that the Spokane County Auditor to hold a special election on November 8, 2016 in conjunction with the scheduled general election to submit to the electors of the City of Spokane a  proposition regarding the enactment of a new section 10.08.068 of the Spokane Municipal Code, relating to a prohibition on the transit of oil and coal trains through specific areas of the City of Spokane.” A series of powerful WHEREASES follow.  – RS]

    Spokane may fine railroads shipping oil or coal through town

    July 21, 2016, 6:01 AM

    SPOKANE – The Spokane City Council is thinking of fining railroad companies that ship crude oil or coal through downtown Spokane.

    The companies would be fined hundreds of dollars for each train car under a law the city council will consider placing on the November ballot.

    The Spokesman-Review says the proposed law would make such shipments a civil infraction punishable by a fine of up to $261 for each train car.

    The City Council will vote Monday on whether to add a law that would authorize fines for oil and coal train operators to the November ballot.

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      Earthjustice map: Crude-by-rail Across America

      Repost from Earthjustice.org
      [Editor: I’m reposting this map today – it was recently updated and still highly relevant.  Earthjustice’s map shows Major Crude-by-Rail Accidents since 2012 (Red Symbols) and communities opposing Crude-by-Rail (Green Symbols).  – RS]

      More crude oil was spilled in U.S. rail incidents in 2013, than was spilled in the nearly four decades since the federal government began collecting data on such spills.

      Since late 2012, as hydraulic fracturing and tar sands drilling created a glut of oil, the industry has scrambled to transport the fossil fuel from drill sites to the east and west coasts, where it can potentially be shipped overseas to more lucrative markets.

      The increase in oil rail traffic, however, has not been matched with increased regulatory scrutiny. Oil trains are not subject to the same strict routing requirements placed on other hazardous materials; trains carrying explosive crude are permitted to pass directly through cities—with tragic results. A train carrying Bakken crude oil derailed in the Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic on July 6, 2013, killing 47 people in the small community.

      In the absence of more protective regulations, communities across the country are beginning to take matters in their own hands.

      Legal Cases

      Earthjustice represents groups across the country, fighting for protections from crude-by-rail:

      FAQs: About Crude-By-Rail

      Q. What are DOT-111s?

      DOT-111s are rail cars designed to carry liquids, including crude oil, and have been in service in North America for several decades. They are prone to punctures, oil spills, fires and explosions and lack safety features required for shipping other poisonous and toxic liquids. As crude production in the United States has surged exponentially in recent years, these outdated rail cars have been used to transport the crude oil throughout the country.

      The U.S. and Canadian government recognized decades ago that the DOT-111s were unsafe for carrying hazardous materials, finding that the chance of a “breach” (i.e., loss of contents, potentially leading to an explosion) is over 50% in some derailment scenarios.

      U.S. and Canadian safety investigators have repeatedly found that DOT-111s are unsafe and recommended that they not be used for explosive or hazardous materials, including crude oil; however, the U.S. government’s proposal to phase out these rail cars fails to take sufficient or immediate action to protect the public.

      Q. What is Bakken crude oil?

      Bakken crude refers to oil from the Bakken shale formation which is primarily in North Dakota, where production has skyrocketed in recent years due to the availability of newer hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) techniques. The increase in the nation’s output of crude oil in 2013, mostly attributable to Bakken production, was the largest in the nation’s history.

      Bakken crude is highly flammable, much more so than some crude oils. Today, Bakken crude moves in “unit trains” of up to 120 rail cars, as long as a mile and a half, often made up of unsafe DOT-111s.

      Q. Are there alternative tank cars available?

      Transporting Bakken crude by rail is risky under the best of scenarios because of its flammability. But legacy DOT-111s represent the worst possible option. All new tank cars built since October 2011 have additional some safety features that reduce the risk of spilled oil by 75%. Even so, safety investigators, the Department of Transportation, and the railroad industry believe tank cars need to be made even safer. Some companies are already producing the next-generation rail cars that are 85% more crashworthy than the DOT 111s. Petitioners support the safest alternatives available, and expect that the ongoing rulemaking process will phase out all unsafe cars.

      In the meantime, an emergency prohibition on shipping Bakken crude in DOT-111s—which virtually everyone acknowledges is unreasonably dangerous—is required immediately. (Read about the formal legal petition filed on July 15, 2014.)

      Q. What steps have U.S. and Canadian governments taken?

      The U.S. government recognizes that Bakken crude oil should not be shipped in DOT 111 tank cars due to the risks, but has done shockingly little to limit their use.

      In May 2014, the DOT issued a safety alert recommending—but not requiring—shippers to use the safest tank cars in their fleets for shipments of Bakken crude and to avoid using DOT 111 cars. Canada, in contrast, responded to the Lac Mégantic disaster with more robust action. It required the immediate phase-out of some DOT-111s, a longer phase-out of the remainder, and the railroads imposed a surcharge on their use to ship crude oil in the meantime.

      In the absence of similar standards in the U.S., the inevitable result will be that newer, safer cars will be used to ship crude in Canada—while the U.S. fleet will end up with the most dangerous tank cars.

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        CREDO Action generates over 47,000 letters opposing Tesoro-Savage oil-by-rail export terminal

        Repost from CREDO Action
        [UPDATE – make that 67,883 letters as of midday, 12/28/5!  – RS]

        Stop the Tesoro-Savage oil-by-rail export terminal

        Stop the Tesoro-Savage oil-by-rail export terminal
        Stop the Tesoro-Savage oil-by-rail export terminal

        This week, Congress give Big Oil a huge holiday gift: lifting the four-decades-old ban on crude oil exports.1  With the ink still drying on the landmark Paris climate agreement, this is a significant setback that could promote U.S. drilling and increase carbon emissions.

        That makes it more important than ever to stop the next step in Big Oil’s plans: building huge terminals to export more crude overseas, like the massive Tesoro-Savage oil train terminal proposed in Vancouver, Washington.

        Tesoro-Savage would be the largest oil-by-rail facility in North America,2 shipping up to 360,000 barrels per day of crude to be burned across the world — making the project nearly half the size of the Keystone XL pipeline.

        Washington officials are now taking public comments on the plan. Washington Governor Jay Inslee has shown strong climate leadership, and it’s vital to let him know that people in Washington, and across the country are standing against this project.

        Stop the Tesoro-Savage oil train terminal. Click here to submit a public comment now.

        Tesoro-Savage’s 360,000 barrels per day of crude would be carried across the country from North Dakota to Washington in dangerous, explosive oil trains, posing a huge risk to public safety every step of the way to the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean.

        And the damage to the climate affects all of us. Once massive oil infrastructure projects like pipelines and export terminals have been built, they keep running for decades. But when we stop them, we can help keep carbon in the ground.3

        In Paris, the world signaled a historic consensus on moving away from fossil fuels. The last thing Governor Jay Inslee or the United States should do is allow oil companies to hijack that agreement by keeping the world market hooked on the oil that poses an existential threat to all of us.

        Speak out against the Tesoro-Savage oil train terminal before the January 22nd deadline.  Click here to submit a public comment now.

          1. Big Oil Companies Can’t Wait For Repeal of U.S. Export Ban,” Newsweek, 12/18/15
          2. Port of Vancouver Proposal,” Columbia Riverkeeper
          3. A Convenient Lie: Why Fossil Fuel Supply Matters for the Climate,” Oil Change International, 9/3/15

        Send an email.

        Your comment to State of Washington officials:

        Please reject the Tesoro-Savage oil-by-rail terminal. The project poses serious risks to the people of Washington State, everyone living along an oil train route, and the entire country by allowing oil companies to sell more fossil fuels overseas.  Building the largest oil-by-rail terminal in North America for yesterday’s energy is the wrong path to meet today’s energy needs. This project would jeopardize Washington State’s leadership in moving away from fossil fuels and towards clean, renewable energy solutions.

        Click here to send this email.

         

         

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