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Mar 13, 2015


Ron Schalow

"If members of the group ISIS somehow infiltrated the United States and set off explosions with the same intensity in the same spots, certain political figures and CNN anchors might have a nervous breakdown on your TV set. But no, it's just our own Big Oil and Big Rail doing their business...keep calm and carry on."--Will Bunch



"The state’s (North Dakota) three-person Industrial Commission seems likely to adopt a set of industry-designed best practices. Simply put, North Dakotan crude will have to be lightly pressure-cooked to boil off a fraction of the volatile “light ends” before shipment."

This conditioning lowers the ignition temperature of crude oil—but not by much. It leaves in solution most of the culprit gases, including butane and propane.

Even the industry itself says conditioning would not make Bakken crude meaningfully safer for transportation, though it would make the state’s crude more consistent from one well to another.

The only solution for safety is STABILIZATION, which evaporates and re-liquefies nearly all of the petroleum gases for separate delivery to refiners. Stabilization is voluntarily and uniformly practiced in the Eagle Ford formation in Texas..."--Railway Age

Contact the North Dakota Industrial Commission & demand "STABILIZATION"... and insist that your city & state lawmakers (and firefighters) do the same...

ND Industrial Commission
[email protected]

Mike Hicks

Interesting that CSX has seen such a dip in traffic since 2004. The general rail industry trend has been an almost continuous increase in carloads, though there was a dip starting around 2007 because of the financial crash. It looks like CSX has been the slowest to recover. That might be due to a dependence on coal, where growth has (rightly) stagnated.

I'm pretty conflicted about the idea of increasing taxes on railroads. We don't tax highways, and it looks like airports don't get taxed either (though the individual airlines probably do). As far as I can tell, the Minnesota plan is to get $33 million more in taxes per year from the railroads, in order to create this 10-year, $330 million plan. It's forcing the railroads to spend money improving crossings, which generally means updating the highways that cross the tracks. The tracks themselves don't necessarily change at all.

I'd be more comfortable with a 50-50 matching program, where the state used highway dollars to pay part of the cost. I don't think these costs should be borne exclusively by the railroads, since the tracks often existed before the roads crossing them were built (though that's certainly not true in all cases).

I like trains, but I prefer to use clean energy when possible, so oil trains leave me in a bind. If they need to exist, I'd prefer that the oil be pre-treated (probably with "stabilization" like Ron mentioned). The fracked crude they're currently carrying is far too volatile (I use that term in the chemistry sense -- emitting far too much gaseous material).

But I certainly hope that we can reduce the need for this stuff to come out of the ground in the first place. There's also a huge market correction happening right now, where the number of active wells has dropped precipitously. That should mean fewer oil trains, at least for a while.

The political donations disappoint me, though I'm not sure if I'd be any happier if they'd been distributing money to both parties. Many members of the GOP have gone off the deep end in their rhetoric and policy ideas. If the money has to flow, I just want it to go to rational people (then again, maybe I don't -- money seems to make people stop behaving rationally...)

Phoenix Woman

Anyone wondering about the clever (and apposite) pun in the header needs to visit this site, where one can many of the same sort of people (if not the exact same people) that pal around with Kurt Daudt also lied to protect Big Tobacco just as they lie to protect Big Oil and Big Coal:


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