This marks at least the second deadly coal train derailment in the US this summer after two people were killed in Chicago on July 4 when a coal train tumbled off an overpass and crushed the car they were traveling in.
At National Wildlife Federation, Peter LaFontaine has put together an interactive map documenting the dozen-plus coal train derailments in 2012. It’s a worrisome look at the direct threat posed by extremely heavy trains traveling at high speeds in populated areas.
As I’ve said before with respect to freight rail, there are some risks and annoyances that are worth putting up with. Moving high-value freight and supporting a stable base of jobs justify some hassles. But clogging our rails and backing up our streets with a low-value commodity that supports few jobs, is notoriously unreliable, is a huge threat to the planet’s climate, and results in serious air pollution problems?
I’m having a hard time seeing the upside.