It is too early to determine the cause of the latest accident, although Canadian investigators believe the Quebec carnage appears to be due to the train operator’s criminal negligence. But the real criminal negligence is that oil from fracking operations in booming North Dakota must be shipped by trains over a thousand mile to refiners in Nova Scotia, because U.S. regulators and their crony allies have fought building pipelines to protect and subsidize the profits of railroads, such as the Burlington Northern Railway Company that controls half the business. Given the huge risks of catastrophic loss of life and property, the Obama Administration will soon be pressured to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Since the beginning of 2006, the drilling process known as hydraulic fracking has made commercially profitable petroleum deposits that were historically too costly to exploit. North Dakota Bakken production has grown from about 220,000 gallons a day to 46.5 million gallons today. Wayde Schafer of the Sierra Club that had been predicting U.S. oil and gas production peaked in the 1980s and was in terminal decline said: “The oil development has happened so rapidly, it’s ahead of the infrastructure to deal with it.”
Pipelines are the safest and most cost-effective transport for crude oil. Legislative and regulatory veto of projects like the Keystone XL pipeline pushed oil shipments onto to the more dicey rails. Rapidly expansion of shale oil and natural gas production is making American “energy independence” a reality. I believe Congress and the Administration now know they are morally just as criminally negligent as the train operators if they do not ensure public safety by green-lighting up to $5 trillion in new domestic pipeline and refinery capital investment.
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