The Keystone XL Pipeline got another nail in its coffin Monday, in the form of a Senate energy vote that excluded the pipeline issue. But Keystone was already near death thanks to the Obama’s administration’s recent decision to ignore the evidence of a definitive government study—and instead keep listening to environmentalists’ dubious claims. The upshot will be more political fires in Washington caused by train derailments in the absence of a pipeline to transport oil more safely.
After the derailment in downtown Lynchburg, Va., on April 30, approximately 30,000 gallons of Bakken crude oil burned or spilled into the James River. On May 9, a derailment north of Denver spilled another 6,500 gallons of oil, which was contained in a ditch before reaching the South Platte River. Fortunately, unlike in the 2013 derailment in Quebec where a 1.3 million-gallon spill killed 47 people and incinerated 30 buildings, no one was injured in Lynchburg or Colorado.
These and other tank-car derailments are prompting local, state and federal officials to consider various regulations to reduce the threats of such accidents, including lower train speed limits and safer tank cars. Unfortunately, few policy makers are doing sensible risk assessment.