Editorial: What About Safety?


As expected, President Obama has vetoed the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project, which would run 1,179 miles from Canada south to the gulf. It is anticipated that the House and Senate will attempt an override of the veto, but at this time they don’t appear to have the votes to be successful.

The project has been under review for more than six years by the Obama administration. Republicans generally favor the pipeline, along with some Democrats, including Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, a Democrat. Proponents say it is needed, will create more than 1,500 jobs and be an economic boost. Opponents say it won’t create permanent jobs and will harm the environment when spills occur. 

Not that much has been said about safety. The lack of pipelines has resulted in a boom for the railroad industry. Trains are carrying more and more crude oil, an estimated million barrels a day.

The Wall Street  Journal reported that political opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline has “emboldened resistance to at least 10 other pipeline projects across North America.” That bodes well for the railroad industry.

Is it safer to move oil by pipelines compared to it being transported by rail? 

Judging by the derailments lately, it would appear pipelines overall are a safer way to move this  product. The damage and threat to lives is more dangerous from derailments of trains transporting oil than from pipelines. Many of the trains with oil pass through residential areas and cities. When a derailment occurs in a populated area, or a business section, the threat to lives and property is enormous. The Journal reported that the publication Energy Monitor Worldwide said “if all the railcars carrying crude oil on a single day were hitched together to a single locomotive, that train would be almost 17 miles long.” Entire towns can be at risk. Explosions, fires and spills have resulted from derailments.

Every so often we hear of a pipeline explosion and spill, but they are somewhat rare. Pipelines are considered safer to transport oil than oil-by-rail.

Sen. McCaskill said she will vote to override the veto. She said pipelines are the safest way to move crude oil, better than barges or trains. “That’s common sense and I will vote to override this veto,” she said.

Franklin County has towns along the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. We also have pipelines running through the county. In this area, we have witnessed more train derailments than pipeline explosions and/or spills. We are at greater risk from derailments. Our no-compromise president doesn’t see it that way. His political stubborness is highlighted by his veto.