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Unsafe at Any Speed – July 25, 2014

Will new DOT regulations prevent another oil by rail disaster?

Who is responsible for the series of oil train derailments and accidents that have occurred recently? A little more than one year since a train derailed in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic, killing 47 people and destroying more than 40 buildings, this seemingly simple question remains at the heart of efforts to improve oil by rail safety. On Wednesday the Obama administration issued proposed changes to an industry that has, until now, operated with little oversight. The “Proposed Rulemaking” would gradually phase out the DOT 111 rail car, widely acknowledge as inadequate for the transport of highly flammable materials like Bakken crude; reduce “high-hazard flammable train” speeds to 40 mph;… more

by: Adam Federman

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“The Whole City Would Have Burned” – July 7, 2014

One year later, the small town of Lac-Megantic is still at the heart of oil-by-rail debate

Jean Dubé runs an office supply store in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic. Both his store and home were badly damaged in last year’s devastating oil-train derailment that killed 47 people and destroyed more than 40 buildings. Oil filled the basement. Still, he opened three days after the accident and relocated his inventory to an employee’s garage. Basic office supplies were in high demand so they delivered everything by car and truck. One of Dubé’s cousins, Marie France Boulet, was killed in the accident. She lived and worked in the center of town. Because of the extraordinary heat of the burning oil—the fire could be felt from more than a… more

by: Adam Federman

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Green Group Warns Keystone XL May be Vulnerable to Terrorist Attack. But Will the Warning Backfire? – June 17, 2014

NextGen report could lead to a blowback against peaceful protesters

NextGen Climate, the environmental advocacy group launched by billionaire activist Tom Steyer, says the Keystone XL pipeline, if built, would be vulnerable to a terrorist attack. In a recently published report authored by a former Navy Seal, the organization argues that because of the pipeline’s high profile it would be an attractive “soft” target. It’s an odd argument for an environmental organization to be making — and one that may make it harder for activists to do their work.

NextGen’s report is essentially calling for the militarization of the nation’s oil and gas infrastructure in which photographing, protesting, or visiting gas wells or pipelines could be interpreted as a… more

by: Adam Federman

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Despite Bakken Crude Train Derailments, Details About Oil Shipments Hard to Come By – May 27, 2014

Railway companies seem reluctant to share basic information towns and cities need to prepare for emergencies

On April 30, a train carrying oil from North Dakota’s Bakken formation derailed in Lynchburg, Virginia releasing close to 30,000 gallons of highly flammable crude into the James River. It was the latest accident in a string of derailments and collisions involving trains carrying Bakken crude, including last July’s fiery explosion in the eastern Quebec town of Lac-Megantic, which killed 47 people and destroyed more than 40 buildings.

Details about Casselton, ND, derailment Two weeks before the Lynchburg derailment, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management provided a power point presentation on oil by rail transport to the city’s local emergency planning commission. It included… more

by: Adam Federman

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TransCanada Cultivates Close Relationship with Nebraska Law Enforcement – April 25, 2014

Despite lack of criminal activity, Keystone XL company urges law enforcement to keep close tabs on opponents

Since August 2011, the Nebraska Information Analysis Center (NIAC) – one of more than 70 Department of Homeland Security “fusion centers” – and TransCanada Corporation, the company behind the Keystone XL Pipeline, have shared information about anti-pipeline protesters, Nebraska landowners, and opposition to the project more broadly, according to documents obtained by Earth Island Journal.

scan of a document, holiday card depicting a snowman made of sand Christmas card email from TransCanada to Nebraska Fusion Center

The emails, which are primarily from TransCanada to the NIAC and Nebraska State Patrol, catalogue everything from “incidents” and “aggressive behavior” among landowners to peaceful protests and… more

by: Adam Federman

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