Friday, September 5, 2014

Short: The Keystone pipeline and freight transport

Here's an interesting article, particularly if you think about ramifications beyond oil, pollution, and political hot potatoes.

Oil can be (and is) shipped by rail and truck, not just by pipeline. Pipelines can leak and/or explode, as can freight vehicles, such as this deadly one in Canada in 2013. Since I'm in the vicinity of Albany, I regularly hear about the potential dangers of their substantial traffic of oil tanker cars.

But it's not just the dangers from shipping oil in moving vehicles. There's also the issue of other freight being priced out of the market, including farm products.

Is everything connected to everything else? I'm terrified that it's true. Now I'm going to either 1) decompress, or 2) clean up the mess from my head exploding.

 Which derailment is this? Lynchburg, maybe?


Dangerous said...

I think I understand what you are saying, MP. Transporting oil is always a dangerous enterprise, so why not do it by a bigger pipeline? Is that a real tradeoff, or is that oil headed to locations other than terminals at the ends of the existing Keystone or proposed Keystone XP pipeline?

Spilled or exploded oil either from pipeline ruptures or train crashes will always be a cost of doing business. Which is higher? Hard to say. Both require insurance and both disasters create expensive problems.

You might have an argument that you can't consider in a vacuum the potential environment damage from an XL pipeline spill. You do have to subtract the potential damage from the equivalent amount of oil shipped via other means along the same routes. That's fair. Or you could establish more regulations to make alternate oil transport modes less likely to spill/explode, or build a safer pipeline. Both add costs that companies would rather not face.

Without running the numbers, I'm going to guess it's a wash. But I prefer tighter regulations on both.

ModeratePoli said...

@dangerous, I guess I wasn't clear enough. One point is that the demand to move oil remains even if a pipeline isn't built. If the demand is high enough, it'll go by rail, with the attendant dangers. So defeating or delaying a pipeline isn't the end of the story.

As for the dangers, both have dangers. I looks to me as though transport by rail is somewhat more dangerous. However, if transport by rail was significantly more dangerous, we'd be hearing more about it through news of derailments and deaths.