train-fireballMile-long trains full of crude oil that have the potential to explode when derailed are causing anxiety all over North America following a string of accidents in the past year.

While the accident at Lac-Mégantic, Quebec was the last to claim lives (47!) , subsequent accidents in Alabama, North Dakota, New Brunswick and Philadelphia have raised the alarm that the oil industry, once again, is putting profit before safety.

Last week saw the publication of safety recommendations by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada as part of its ongoing investigation into the Lac-Mégantic disaster. While it remains to be seen how these will be adopted, a forecast of crude-by-rail growth quoted in the report needs a little more attention than it appears to have gotten.

Here’s the excerpt:



For those viewing this in text only, let me spell it out.

Crude-by-rail in the US and Canada is around 1 million barrels per day right now, and we have had 4 major accidents all with large explosions in the last 6 months, one of which with major loss of life.

10 years from now we could be seeing over four times that much crude transported by rail throughout the US and Canada, some 4.5 million barrels per day, according to this estimate.

Are we okay with that North America?

And before anybody writes in the comments that this is all inevitable and we can either build more pipe or just suck it up on the railroads, let’s get some things clear.

We have a choice.

We have more oil and gas than we can safely burn.

We can do more to reduce consumption.

Failing to address climate change will be worse for the economy than business as usual.

This is not inevitable.  This is not about our energy security. This is not in the public interest.

This IS about Big Oil’s profits.