We are pleased to have a guest blog post from Martha Baskin, a highly respected environmental reporter, covering critical issues that we care deeply about at 21 Acres. You may have heard Martha as host of Green Acre Radio or read her recent article about GMO-free Cheerios which was picked up on the national level. The article she just wrote about oil-carrying rail cars and tanker ships is alarming. Please read on….
I don’t think people are aware of the magnitude of fossil fuels headed our way via rail and tankers. On the rail side volume is expected to increase 8 fold when 9 new oil terminals become operational from Ferndale to Vancouver, WA. Currently 4 oil terminals are up and running. The trains will carry – as they do today but with less frequency – crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken shale fields, tar sands from Alberta and coal from Montana’s Powder Ridge Basin. What’s different than in decades past is volume — high powered extraction techniques – and intent. Fossil fuel companies are beginning to lose their domestic markets and are anxious to take up the slack with exports. There could be as many as 50 trains rolling through the region daily with 100 cars each and each filled with volatile crude. Given the horrific number of explosions, the volatility of the crude and unsafe rail cars not made to carry oil, it’s almost madness that neither the feds or the state are stepping in and saying “whoa”, slow down, you go too fast. At a minimum, per advocates quoted in my story, there should be a moratorium on all rail transport of fossil fuels until the cars are retrofit. (Some 80% are not.) (more…)