Oil By Rail - the dangers of a "pipeline on wheels"
It is gross negligence by regulators, politicians and Gov. Jay Inslee to allow a single tanker in our state if it is full of a substance we cannot clean up. -Todd Paglia, guest columnist The Seattle Times
Our watershed faces increasing threats from loads of fossil fuels that are carried by rail through our communities and sensitive ecosystems on their way to refineries or port facilities on the western coast of the US. Rail transport of crude oil, similar to rail transport of coal, poses inherent risks including increased long-term pollution and the potential for catastrophic environmental impacts from accidental derailments or explosions. In response to proposals for new oil-by-rail projects in the Pacific Northwest, Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper advocates for comprehensive environmental reviews that study all potential threats associated with these projects. We want to ensure that the interests of our watershed and its residents are included in a mine-to-port assessment to determine whether these facilities should be permitted. We encourage all residents of the Lake Pend Oreille region to stay informed about oil-by-rail issues and to participate in the review process for all the proposed oil-by-rail projects.
Oil by Rail - proposals to increase crude oil shipments continue to compound our rail worries in North Idaho. Proposed oil-by-rail projects put Lake Pend Oreille and it's watershed squarely at the losing end of fossil fuel energy dealings. With coal companies proposing a nearly 10-fold increase in rail transport of coal, the shipping of Bakken crude oil through our communities and sensitive ecosystems would leave us with compounded threats of pollution plus additional public health and safety concerns. As part of a growing coalition across the Northwest, Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper is committed to tracking this issue and speaking up for the rights of our Lake Pend Oreille communities. Watch the video below for the full oil-by-rail story:
There are currently 6 oil-by-rail projects being planned, built or already operated by oil companies in the Northwest. These projects are the destinations for crude oil-by-rail shipments, and include one expanded refinery as well as 5 port terminals. If all projects became operational, the Northwest could handle and deliver more than 610,600 barrels of oil every day, a volume that exceeds the refining capacity of the region. Put all these projects together and you'll find a daily capacity that is greater than either of the controversial pipeline expansion projects currently on the table; the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline and the Kinder Morgan expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
A summary of active proposals is included below for online viewing or download. Also, don't forget to visit the Sightline Institute for further information, resources and summaries of potential oil-by-rail impacts.
Protecting our community
Lake Pend Oreille WATERKEEPER is committed to protecting our watershed, its people and its resources. We believe our communities have a strong voice in oil-by-rail issues and a right to be heard. As part of a growing coalition, we have been raising awareness and taking direct action on coal and oil issues for nearly three years. LPOW will stay involved in oil-by-rail advocacy as long as this issue threatens our well-being and quality of life in the Pend Oreille Basin.
Over the past three years, LPOW has worked with the City of Sandpoint to adopt 5 resolutions against dangerous rail traffic, including 3 against coal and 2 against oil shipments. We are now working with surrounding communities to adopt similar resolutions. Local elected officials have come together with a powerful statement in these resolutions; saying "our towns have the right to know and to be protected!" These resolutions demand thorough studies of the impacts of oil and coal shipments on our communities, and clear plans for mitigating any negative impacts of increased fossil fuels traffic on public health, water quality and safety.
LPOW has also worked diligently to inform citizens about this issue and encourage grassroots advocacy through public comment periods, petitions and sign-on letters to state and federal officials. Public involvement in this issue is key, and will help protect our communities from the negative impacts of dangerous rail traffic in the future. To stay updated and to get involved, please fill out and submit the contact form at the top of this page. Or, visit LPOW's Take Action page for current public comment opportunities.
Stand Up To Oil
Communities Fueling Change
Oil Trains and the Government’s Failure to Protect People, Wildlife and the Environment
Oil Change International
Infographics, factsheets, an interactive map, reports and much more. A great research site.
Sandpoint oil by rail resolution
Read the City of Sandpoint's resolution to protect its citizens and natural resources from the potential negative impacts of increased oil-by-rail traffic.
Fossil Fuels Factsheet
A short summary of fossil fuel shipments and their potential impacts on our watershed. A great print-out resource!
Off the Rails - Forest Ethics Report
This Forest Ethics report details combined potential impacts of the pending Oil-by rail and coal proposals.
Heavy Traffic Still Ahead
This report reevaluates the anticipated increase in coal train traffic in light of the current proposals for new or expanded port facilities in the Pacific Northwest. Also highlights impacts to taxpayers.
The Northwest’s Pipeline on Rails
Sightline Institute has created a comprehensive blog with a region-wide review of all the oil-by-rail projects planned or currently operating in the Northwest. Many infographs and fantastic reading are presented through regular postings.
Federal safety recommendations for Oil-by-Rail transport: What they mean for taxpayers.
Heavy Traffic Still Ahead, Exec. Summary
The two-page fact sheet summarizing the 80+ page HTSA Report.
Oil trains are the new coal trains
Guest opinion by Todd Paglia in The Seattle Times.
Types of Crude Oil
EPA definitions of class A-D oils and their characteristics.
Watch a September 5, 2013 investigative report from NBC News on how unsafe the crude oil trains are that roll through our communities everyday: Danger on the tracks: Unsafe rail cars carry oil through US towns.