As President Obama readies his veto pen for a bill approving the Keystone XL pipeline, the primary alternative to the controversial infrastructure project is sending trains laden with volatile crude through cities and small towns across the country. Despite having access to the world’s most extensive pipeline network, producers have had to turn to trains to transport booming crude output to refineries. But as we saw last week in West Virginia, more oil trains means more fiery derailments. Reuters reports:
In line with a federal protocol established last year following a string of fiery derailments across North America, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management on Tuesday informed 16 counties and cities that oil trains could be coming through their towns, local officials and fire departments said, one day after the Mount Carbon derailment. Those counties passed the information on to local emergency responders. […]That this is happening with little fanfare in Pembroke and potentially hundreds of other cities and towns along this track stretching as far as Ohio, highlights how ubiquitous oil trains have become in the United States, where crude-by-rail is an essential, yet sometimes explosive, fix for an overwhelmed pipeline network.
Obama’s veto is expected to come sometime this week, and while it won’t sound a death knell for Keystone, it will at the very least further delay its construction. The longer that happens, the more oil rides our nation’s railroads, often through more densely populated locations than it would via the proposed pipeline. Surely that’s worth taking into consideration, right?