The Bismarck Tribune reports that the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline may possibly reduce rail crude transport by 470,000 barrels or more. SMART TD National Legislative Director John Risch told the newspaper that the downturn in oil shipments by rail could negatively impact BNSF’s ability to continue to invest in rail services.
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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) – Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law Thursday a measure that attempts to improve the safety of oil transportation as a sharp increase in trains carrying volatile crude oil poses new safety and environmental risks in the state.
A compromise reached on the last day of the regular legislative session resolved differences between competing bills in the Senate and House.
“Even with the passage of this bill I remain very concerned about the safety of Washingtonians,” Inslee said.
States from California to Maine are hiring rail inspectors and oil-spill experts as they draw up emergency plans after trains carrying crude derailed and burst into fireballs, including a crash in Quebec that killed 47.
In California, Governor Jerry Brown is proposing a 15 percent funding boost for his response agency. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo last week ordered five departments to create spill disaster plans and wants to double the number of train inspectors. The July derailment in the Canadian town of Lac-Megantic was followed in December by BNSF Railway Co.’s 400,000-gallon explosion in North Dakota.
FARGO, North Dakota — North Dakota’s two senators took turns peppering two BNSF executives Saturday on the railroad company’s plans to prevent another train derailment like last month’s crash and fire near Casselton.
The Dec. 30 collision that happened when a train carrying soybeans derailed and caused a train carrying crude oil to derail one mile west of Casselton caused massive explosions and left a cloud over the city. There were no injuries, but residents were asked to evacuate.
WASHINGTON Two Senate committee chairmen asked the secretaries of transportation and energy on Thursday to take “prompt and decisive action” to resolve recent safety problems with crude oil transported by rail.
A series of fiery derailments, including a deadly wreck in Quebec last summer and a near-miss last week in North Dakota, have gained the attention of lawmakers, who until this point had said little about the issue.
Rail-safety advocates and members of Congress are calling for stricter tank-car safety standards in the wake of a major oil-by-rail accident this week, an appeal that took on new urgency Thursday with the release of a federal advisory that oil from North Dakota’s Bakken formation may be more flammable than other types of crude.
A train carrying crude oil from the Bakken ran off the rails near Casselton, N.D., on Monday, leading to a voluntary evacuation of nearby residents. The accident occurred when freight cars carrying crude oil struck a train that had derailed earlier in the day. No injuries were reported but the crash sparked an inferno and reignited concerns over the potential dangers of shipping oil by rail.
BILLINGS, Mont. – Following a string of explosive accidents, federal officials say crude oil being shipped by rail from the Northern Plains across the U.S. and Canada may be more flammable than traditional forms of oil.
A safety alert issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation warns the public, emergency responders and shippers about the potential high volatility of crude from the Bakken oil patch. The sprawling oil shale reserve is fueling the surging industry in eastern Montana and western North Dakota, which is now the nation’s second-largest oil producer behind Texas.
WOLF POINT, Mont. – It’s tough to miss the trains hauling crude oil out of the Northern Plains. They are growing more frequent by the day, mile-long processions of black tank cars that rumble through wheat fields and towns, along rivers and national parks.
As common as they have become across the U.S. and Canada, officials in dozens of towns and cities where the oil trains travel say they are concerned with the possibility of a major derailment, spill or explosion, while their level of preparation varies widely.
As 57,000 miles of U.S. crude pipelines threaten to lure business from railroads, Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific Corp. are sticking to their bet on the nation’s energy boom.
Domestic oil that was significantly cheaper than imported crude for the last two years allowed refiners to pay rail service’s higher transportation costs rather than use slower, less expensive pipelines. With the oil price difference now narrowing, the share of crude shipped by rail from Williston Basin region in and around North Dakota has decreased for three consecutive months, the longest string of declines since 2011.
The number of freight trains carrying oil across America has soared in the past five years, but federal officials warn that the massive steel tank cars that carry most of that oil through towns and past schools – the same cars that exploded in Quebec this summer, killing 47 – may be unsafe and prone to rupture.
“The clock is ticking,” said Jim Arie, fire chief of the Chicago suburb of Barrington, Ill., where the number of trains that rumble across Main Street has grown from five a day to nearly one an hour. “As long as these rail cars are out there and they’re being used, potential exists for a major disaster.”
Crude oil shipped by railroad from North Dakota is drawing fresh scrutiny from regulators concerned that the cargo is adding environmental and safety hazards, something that analysts say could raise costs.
The U.S. Federal Railroad Administration is investigating whether chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing are corroding rail tank cars and increasing risks. Separately, three pipeline companies including Enbridge Inc. warned regulators that North Dakota oil with too much hydrogen sulfide, which is toxic and flammable, was reaching terminals and putting workers at risk.
The oil industry and U.S railroads are resisting the Obama administration’s attempt to boost safety standards for the type of rail car involved in a fiery, fatal explosion in Canada, citing costs and technical challenges.
Industry groups say it is impractical to retrofit tens of thousands of existing tank cars used to haul oil, even as they have adopted voluntary standards to ensure that cars ordered after October 2011 meet tough requirements recommended by federal transportation experts following a deadly ethanol train derailment and explosion in Illinois two years earlier.