For your viewing pleasure, I give you two takes on how fossil fuel export plans could reshape life in the Northwest.
Number one, a forum on oil transport hosted by Washington Environmental Council. My act, which provides an abbreviated overview of the changing nature of oil in the Northwest, starts at about 6:10 here:
You should also take time to absorb the remarks by moderator Brett VandenHeuvel, as well as my co-panelists Kristen Boyles and Matt Krogh. The second panel focused on the risks of oil spills and vastly increased maritime traffic and it starred Puget Sound experts Fred Felleman, Stephanie Buffum, and Bruce Wishart.
Number two, King 5 environment reporter Gary Chittim featured Sightline’s analysis of the coming street closures in King County from oil and coal trains:
Very informative WEC panel. I would only add that the tug escorts required for oil tankers in Washington State are not required for the much larger and more unwieldy coal ships that carry significant amounts of bunker fuel themselves.
This was very informational, along with highly scary (and yes, I occasionally submit material that Sightline staff turn into blog posts, but I admit my ignorance on the technical details of oil train explosions).
Matt Krogh reported that the industry uses oil tank cars that have this unfortunate tendency to explode, and U.S. DOT currently is considering requiring oil tank cars with more protection/safer design. Do you have details (maybe even in another of your posts)on how to comment on this proposal, and/or should I check the web pages of Forest Ethics, Matt’s group?
My thanks to Sightline staff for posting in Today’s Headlines for 12/9 an article in the Vancouver Columbian, originally appearing in the Chicago Tribune, explaining why designs for oil tank cars make them subject to explode, and why federal regulators and train companies want more safely designed cars. The article also quotes a spokesperson for Dow Chemical, a petrochemical company, opposing the safer designs.
This material answers my question, and far as I am concerned.
Another observation on exploding oil trains, if I may be allowed. Sightline Daily’s Tuesday’s Headlines column includes a report on the recent explosion in North Dakota. For the record, that train was traveling East, but it could just as well have carried oil from the Bakken field to the Pacific Northwest. It was a BNSF train, that happened to collide with a train carrying grain that had derailed. The potential for comparable circumstances in the NW, which includes major wheat growing areas and freight rail to get grain to port or other markets, seems clear.
The evacuation order for Casselton has been lifted, but an ABC News report and video describing flames 300 feet high in “Arctic” temperatures can be found at the following link (viewers may have to sit through a brief commercial first) http://abcnews.go.com/US/casselton-residents-urged-evacuate-oil-train-collision/story?id=21376966
And as another news story that ran in the Daily’s Headlines sections reports, railroads recognize that older oil tank cars have an inadequate design that makes them more vulnerable to breach during a derailment. Yet fossil fuel and chemical companies seem to be resisting retrofitting old tank cars to reduce the likelihood of explosions. Details are now buried in the Archives of the Chicago Tribune, but a summary of the article can be found here: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-11-29/news/chi-concerns-grow-about-safety-of-rail-tank-cars-20131129_1_tank-cars-flammable-liquids-pipelines