ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Other Views: Common ground on oil/rails

The two state governors closest to problems associated with the transport of oil by rail seem to be in harmony. Minnesota's Mark Dayton and North Dakota's Jack Dalrymple sang from the same songbook last week about putting technology to work to re...

The two state governors closest to problems associated with the transport of oil by rail seem to be in harmony. Minnesota’s Mark Dayton and North Dakota’s Jack Dalrymple sang from the same songbook last week about putting technology to work to remove volatile gases from Bakken crude oil before it’s pumped into railroad tank cars.
At the same time, the oil industry was singing a different song. Or was it?
Each man’s statement - a letter to Dalrymple from Dayton, and subsequent remarks by Dalrymple on a Prairie Public Radio broadcast - confirmed recognition of Bakken crude’s volatility and the inherent danger of moving the stuff by train. Both governors endorsed remedies that would make the oil less volatile, thus safer in the event of a rail accident.
Meanwhile, industry spokesmen trotted out an industry-financed study that concluded Bakken oil was no more volatile than other light crudes. Putting aside the credibility of a study bought by the industry, the findings were unwittingly instructive about comparative volatility. The study did not say Bakken crude was not volatile. Rather, it said Bakken crude was no more volatile than other light crude oil. Translation: All of them are volatile, and therefore pose greater fire and explosion risk in a derailment than heavier grades of crude.
Seen in that light, independent analyses of Bakken crude comport with the industry study, even as the industry attempted to spin a little fog into volatility comparisons in its study.
Dalrymple and Dayton surely have access to all studies of Bakken crude, and probably a lot more data that is not public. Given their recent public statements, it’s reasonable to assume they are concerned. Conclusions they expressed last week about oil volatility and rail safety are not to be dismissed. The industry - oil and rail - should take notice.

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead’s editorial board formed this opinion.

What To Read Next
The Dickinson Press Editorial Board stands with the wild horses and calls on the National Park Service to extend public commentary period
“From the Hawks’ Nest” is a monthly column by Dickinson State University President Steve Easton
"Life is a team effort no matter what, and greed puts you out on a lonely limb," writes Kevin Holten.
"Our life of faith is a life with God. And that makes all the difference," writes Boniface Muggli