Oil transport politics

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In the Feb. 22 article “Railroads, Regulators Adopt Curbs on Shipping Crude Oil,” it is asserted that “those incidents [oil-car derailments] led members of Congress, including Sen. Bob Casey … to seek action.” Also asserted is that “more and more [crude oil] is being transported by rail.” The article ends with the citation of the tragedy in Quebec that killed 47 people.

The implications are: 1) 47 people were killed because of railroads transporting more crude; 2) Congress will save us. It should be noted that the tragedy in Quebec was operator error.

Politicians always use tragic situations to bolster their position and images. The fact is that congressmen and senators cannot be all-knowing to enact appropriate laws to protect the citizenry, especially on such a technical matter as rail safety. Case in point is the Affordable Care Act where 5 million citizens lost their prior coverage for (an estimated) 1.3 million enrollees under the new act. Look what Congress has wrought by its lack of understanding of the health insurance industry.

Congress, and your readers, fail to realize that it is in the best interests of the railroads to implement measures to make the transport of Bakken crude safely, read that fail-safe. Our senators and congressional leaders need to leave highly technical matters to the companies and agencies (e.g., the Federal Railroad Administration) that have the expertise.


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