If only we had a safe, underground means to transport crude oil.
Moments before U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey was preparing to talk about her latest oil train safety initiative, she received word that a 109-car oil train had derailed in North Dakota, with several of the tank cars exploding and catching fire, leading to the evacuation of a town of about 35 residents.
“Can you imagine if it happened here?” Lowey said Wednesday morning at a CSX rail crossing in West Nyack used by 15 to 30 oil trains a week.
With improved tank cars set to be phased in over the next decade, Lowey said the oil placed inside them also had to be made less dangerous. On Monday, she plans to introduce a bill banning all interstate rail shipments of Bakken crude oil if they are not first treated to remove explosive gases.
The measure would affect a large percentage of trains carrying crude oil through Rockland and an increasing number nationwide. In 2014, more than 410 million barrels of crude oil were transported in nearly 500,000 carloads, with most coming from the Bakken shale region in North Dakota, Montana and Canada, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Asked if a ban would be perceived as too drastic, Lowey, D-Harrison, said strong action was needed on oil trains.
“If they go up in flames, that’s even more drastic and think of the lives that are lost,” Lowey told The Journal News after a news conference featuring a number of local officials. “It’s essential that the companies who produce the Bakken oil understand that this volatility is a matter of life and death.”
When presented with the opportunity to vote for a common-sense pipeline that could already be transporting oil, Lowey voted no. The reporter apparently forgot to ask her about this.