New rules let the oil trains roll..

Earlier this week, the oil industry criticized new safety standards released by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Right on cue, barely 48 hours later, an oil train derailed and exploded in North Dakota, and proved that the new standards probably don't go far enough.

Before this week, there had already been five oil train explosions in North America this year alone, and that number is likely to increase as more and more crude oil is shipped by train. In response to the numerous disasters, the Department of Transportation has implemented new safety rules, which have Big Oil complaining about costs and transport time.

The DOT has instituted a new, lower speed limit of 50 mph on trains carrying flammable materials, and a limit of 40 mph through urban areas. In addition, all trains carrying oil must have updated braking systems, better classification of materials, and operators must abide by new protocols.

While those increased standards are marginally better, the Think Progress Blog points out that the new rules actually rescind one important safety requirement that went in to place last year.

For a short time, railroads were required to tell states when flammable shipments were coming through, but these new rules leave that burden on the states by simply providing a phone number that officials can use to find out about potentially dangerous rail cars.

So, it's understandable that environmental groups and some lawmakers are upset about these new rules. Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington state said that these new rules “let the oil trains roll.” She added, “It does nothing to address explosive volatility, very little to reduce the treat of rail car punctures, and is too slow on the removal of the most dangerous cars.”

And she's exactly right. The only safe oil trail is the one that doesn't exist, and the only way to ensure the safety of our communities is to stop drilling for oil once and for all.

Comments

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 7 years 20 weeks ago
#1

Yeah, and we'll continue getting gouged at the pump, and paying subsidies via taxes to Big Oil while the U.S. Military Industrial Terrorists continue stealing it from other countries overseas. What goddam suckers we all are.

mathboy's picture
mathboy 7 years 20 weeks ago
#2

Ooh, someone mentioned proportional representation. That means I get to push my own idea again.

http://www.thomhartmann.com/users/mathboy/blog/2012/05/system-electing-legislators-part-1-case

mathboy's picture
mathboy 7 years 20 weeks ago
#3

Trained physicist here. The time dilation, length contraction, and mass increase factor, called gamma, in special relativity is γ = 1/√(1 - (v/c)^2). "v/c" can also be called "β" (beta) to make the equations more concise.

I haven't seen the movie Interstellar, but I saw a bit of Neil deGrasse Tyson interviewing the director, and I infer that general relativity was also at work. If you go deep into a gravity well (by being close to a massive star, perhaps) time passes slower for you than for anyone "higher up" in gravitational potential. So if the travelers in the movie did something like that, it's similar to taking a time machine forward.

Willie W's picture
Willie W 7 years 20 weeks ago
#4

The oil industry will see this blog and say "I told you so!" They can argue that " This is why we need more pipe lines."

Cheerful Clips's picture
Cheerful Clips 7 years 20 weeks ago
#5

Expendable human being people

Oil Cars on trains are an example of the Coal / Oil / Fracking Natural Gas / Tar Sands / Melted Glaciers R Us / Wall Street Stock Player Corporations' contempt for expendable human being people and their communities have. Underground Fresh Water for expendable human being people is expendable near Oil / Gas / Tar Sands pipelines. When I see Black Americans protesting brutal police abuse with Black Lives Matter signs it gets me to thinking. To Big Corporations who run stuff in America, no human being people lives matter. We are all expendable in the view of Greed. Remember, Greed has 2 parts. 1. More for me. 2. Nothing for everything else. That's what the story of human being people getting kicked out of a fun garden and not allowed back in is all about. 1. We get everything wonderful. 2. Everyone else gets nothing. Corporate runners who get to run the world get to have everything. Everything else gets nothing. Greed is no fun at all if it's only I get more. Greed is really only fun if everything else gets nothing. Stay tuned.

JOHN LONGENECKER

Academy Award Winner

stecoop01's picture
stecoop01 7 years 20 weeks ago
#6

Thom, I wonder about your obsession with oil being hauled by trains, given that trains are hauling far more dangerous cargo every day; for example chlorine gas, and liquified natural gas (LNG), and even spent nuclear fuel rods from nuclear power plants. Of those three, LNG terrifies me the most; I live less than 3 miles from some very busy CSX tracks; if an LNG tanker were to explode on those tracks, my home is within range of the resulting fireball.

I agree that the railroads, and the shippers who use the railroads, need to do more, much more, to make the transport of hazordous materials safer, but a little perspective is in order.

Personally, if a train has to derail, I would rather it be an oil train than an LNG or chlorine train. Of course, I'd rather trains didn't derail at all.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 7 years 20 weeks ago
#7

I can relate, stecoop! These fucking Canadians are trying to force an LNG export facility down our throats in my home town. About 300 landowners are threatened with eminent domain along the route of their proposed pipeline. Many people here are dead-set against it, but there's also a bunch of idiots among us who think it's a swell idea. At the end of this month, I'll be joining a group of likeminded souls in Salem, Oregon, to protest this monstrosity, and we'll be giving 'em hell.

Kend's picture
Kend 7 years 20 weeks ago
#8

Alice would you rather freeze in the dark? By the it isn't Canadians building the LNG plant in your hood. Good luck with your fight against it though. I like it when people stand up for what they believe in.

Willie your right, I will say it. It makes much more sense to ship energy through pipelines, doing it by rail it much more dangerous. Time to approve Keystone.

Narjhan's picture
Narjhan 7 years 20 weeks ago
#9

I feel that it is not a coincidence that the "bomb trains" are getting to be more frequent and given more media attention after the XL Pipeline was denied.

It could be possible they are being manipulated to explode on purpose in retaliation.

PFNELKAK 7 years 20 weeks ago
#10

kend-- we don't need any of your oil. we don't need any oil. But with the oil co.'s running the world, no one can see past there greedy big eyes. Your eyes have shown your colors. Its obvious you haven't been reading anything on this website. Go to www.sesemestreet.com

gloriapower's picture
gloriapower 7 years 20 weeks ago
#11

I am tired of fossil fuels. Let's promote electric cars and solar. Then we won't have destruction of our homes, lands, families, flora, and fauna.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 20 weeks ago
#12

stecoop1 -- That perspective thing does not make much sense to me. Are you suggesting we shouldn't fight against legislation to make rail travel safer for oil because we could be blown to bits by an LNG tanker?

stecoop01's picture
stecoop01 7 years 20 weeks ago
#13
Quote chuckle8:stecoop1 -- That perspective thing does not make much sense to me. Are you suggesting we shouldn't fight against legislation to make rail travel safer for oil because we could be blown to bits by an LNG tanker?

How are you getting that from anything I wrote???

I am saying that ALL transport of hazardous material by rail needs to be made safer, not just oil; there are materials FAR MORE dangerous than crude oil being transported by rail. Legislation that focuses only on oil transport is extremely blind and narrow. I liken it to regulating aspirin while people are dying from heroin abuse.

Kend's picture
Kend 7 years 20 weeks ago
#14

Stecoop, no one cares about the real hazardous materials being transported by anything because this is about hating oil companies. Sometimes I think the environment is just a excuse. If we really cared we would be pushing hard for cars to go to natural gas. It's ten times cleaner.

Ou812's picture
Ou812 7 years 20 weeks ago
#15

According to the US Depth of energy, here is the sources for electricity generation in the USA.

In 2014, the United States generated about 4,093 billion kilowatthours of electricity.1 About 67% of the electricity generated was from fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and petroleum).

Major energy sources and percent share of total U.S. electricity generation in 2014:

  • Coal = 39%
  • Natural gas = 27%
  • Nuclear = 19%
  • Hydropower = 6%
  • Other renewables = 7%
    • Biomass = 1.7%
    • Geothermal = 0.4%
    • Solar = 0.4%
    • Wind = 4.4%
  • Petroleum = 1%
  • Other gases < 1%

We would not exist for long without fossil fuel. Farming, and the distribution of farm products requires fossil fuel. Heating and air conditioning requires fossil fuels, either in the raw form or using electricity generated using fossil fuels. Solar generated electricity works great when then sun is shining, but it can not be stored without a huge supply of batteries, which present it's own set of problems. We will survive much longer with fossil fuels than without them.

Willie W's picture
Willie W 7 years 20 weeks ago
#16

Wow. Looks like anyone switching to an electric car will be switching from an oil burner to a coal burner. On the plus side, if coal cars derail, they don't catch fire.

Kend's picture
Kend 7 years 20 weeks ago
#17

Willie. Gas can be moved safety through a pipeline so we don't have to use rail. The problem is Warren Buffet who owns a large rail company, donated a train load of money to the Democratic Party and is making a train load of money. So rail it is. Who cares about trains exploding when there is money to make. Don't you love politics.

Willie W's picture
Willie W 7 years 20 weeks ago
#18

Looks like the pipe people gotta come up with more bucks! Don't they understand how the game is played? And yes! Politics is stranger than fiction.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 20 weeks ago
#19

Kend -- The only place that oil or gas can move safely through a pipe is on the drawing board.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 20 weeks ago
#20

stecoop01 -- Thanks for telling me how the word "perspective" makes sense. Of course, you wanting congress (i.e. republicans) to pass laws with perspective is a reach. We could hope that any improvements in the rail travel would help all things they transport.

Kend's picture
Kend 7 years 20 weeks ago
#21

Chuckle then the same can be said with electricity. More poeple die from being electrocuted then die from gas or oil explosions. Like I said the alternative is to freeze in the dark.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 20 weeks ago
#22

Ou812 -- Of course, if we could get out from under the thumb of the billionaires of the carbon corps, we could initiate programs like they have in cloudy Germany. Also, our country has so much potential for hemp. All we need to do is get rid of republicans and we could have numbers like

solar - 50%

biomass - 39.6%

hydro - 6%

wind - 4.4%

To remove the thumb, movetoamend.org.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 20 weeks ago
#23

kend -- It sounds like Darwin at work. I guess people like you will freeze in the dark. The rest of us will build adiabatic houses and grow hemp.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 20 weeks ago
#24

Ou812 -- That number (4e9 * kilo = 4 tera-watthours) seems low. I thought the German solar experiment created 8 tera something. Maybe Tom Steyer will fund me to run the numbers, like the Koch bros do for the dark side.

Ou812's picture
Ou812 7 years 20 weeks ago
#25

Chuckles. According to several sources (that I will cite at the end of this brief response), German sources for electricity generation are as follows:

In 2013 the gross electric power generation in Germany totalled 631 billion kWh. A major proportion of the electricity supply is based on lignite (25.5 %), hard coal (19.4 %) and nuclear energy (15.4 %). Natural gas has a share of 10.6 %. Renewables (wind, water, biomass, photovoltaic) account for 24.1 %.

Photovoltaic accounted for only 4.8% of the renewables. Please tell me 1 nation that is using hemp as a generating source for electricity.

https://www.euronuclear.org/info/encyclopedia/p/pow-gen-ger.htm, 

http://theenergycollective.com/robertwilson190/456961/reality-check-germ...

stecoop01's picture
stecoop01 7 years 20 weeks ago
#26
Quote Kend: then the same can be said with electricity. More poeple die from being electrocuted

Kend, as an electrician, I have to take exception to that statement. Electricity doesn't leak out of pipes or spill along railroad tracks; it doesn't seep into your house and destroy your lungs; it doesn't explode into huge fireballs and wipe out small towns (there has to be an explosive agent present when a spark occurs); it doesn't contaminate the environment, once the switch is off, it's gone. It kills only if you come into direct contact with it. In fact, the number one cause of death for electricians and linemen is BEING DISTRACTED WHILE WORKING ON LIVE ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS.

The IBEW (one of the few unions I find acceptable), and it's predecessors, has made great strides in making electrical work much safer than it used to be; there was a time when an electrician/lineman was being killed on the job EVERY 12 MINUTES.

Comparing the hazards of oil/gas transport to electricity, just doesn't work for me.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 20 weeks ago
#27

Ou812 -- I am mostly waiting for the check from Tom Steyer.

The euronuclear link does not work.

The second link is a PhD math student. He uses BP numbers for his evidence.

Now, without Steyer's check, I have to chose between Mr. Hartmann and Mr. Wilson.

Ou812's picture
Ou812 7 years 20 weeks ago
#28

Chuckles, here is the link again. It will give you something to do while you wait for Steyer's check. https://www.euronuclear.org/info/encyclopedia/p/pow-gen-ger.htm BTW, Dr. Wilson uses AGEB Data for his paper. AGEB is the German equivelent of the US Department of Energy.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 20 weeks ago
#29

Ou812 -- The AGEB reference Mr Wilson provides only goes to the year 2013. I assume for 2014 he uses BP numbers.

I thought after the Fukushima disaster Germany shut down all the nuclear power plants.

I am finished analyzing that pie chart from the nuclear industry and still no check from Mr. Steyer.

Ou812's picture
Ou812 7 years 20 weeks ago
#30

Chuckles,

You are a funny guy....I have no idea how you would interpret the data to make the assumption you make. Are you smoking the hemp instead of generating electricity with It? By the way, you never gave me the name of one nation, who use hemp as their source of electricity generating energy. Surely, if hemp is such a great source of renewable energy, someone MUST use it.

gmeale's picture
gmeale 7 years 19 weeks ago
#31

Hero of Alexandria was toying with the steam engine in the 1st century AD! per Enclcopedia Britanica

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 19 weeks ago
#32

Ou812 -- I do not know which assumption you are referring to. Guessing that it is the assumption about Germany shutting down its nuclear power, I agree I would have to smoking the real stuff, not hemp, to derive that assumption from the charts. I was just stating something my faulty memory recalled from Thom's radio program. When the check arrives, I will research the podcasts/you tubes to support my faulty memory.

To find a country that uses hemp, I need to find one not under the thumb of the carbon corps. For hemp not only are the billionaires of the carbon corps fighting it, but also the billionaires producing cotton and big pharma (they probably think they are fighting MJ).

Also, the US is probably the best country in the world, based on arable land (that is, land only good for growing hemp) and climate. Because of this great advantage looking at other countries may not be meaningful.

Ou812's picture
Ou812 7 years 19 weeks ago
#33

Chuckles, I bet you have brown eyes:)

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 19 weeks ago
#34

Ou812 -- The 50% solar power number in Germany came in 2014. All your links end in 2013.

Ou812's picture
Ou812 7 years 19 weeks ago
#35

Chuckles, Don't keep it a secret, show me your source for the 50% Solar number in Germany. You seem to be the only one who knows about it. The prestigious Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems places the percentage of electricity generated from photovoltatic in Germany in 2014 at 6.9%. http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/en/publications/veroeffentlichungen-pdf-dateien-en/studien-und-konzeptpapiere/recent-facts-about-photovoltaics-in-germany.pdf You are losing crediability Chuckles, how am i to believe anything you say.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 19 weeks ago
#36

Ou812 -- You are not memorizing my every word. Of course, neither do I. What I previously said was that I heard the 50% PV in Germany number on Thom Hartmann's radio show. I also said that I would research the occurrence when Mr. Steyer's check arrived.

However, who needs Mr Steyer when we have Ou812. Pg 5 of the last link you sent me has the 50% number. I assume that is the source of Thom Hartmann's statement.

Ou812's picture
Ou812 7 years 19 weeks ago
#37

Chuckles, I see you a struggling with reading the report. The 50% number you are reading on page 5 is an instance report. Which means at that point in time, at that instant, photovoltaic generated 50% of the power. If you took the reading at midnight, photovoltaic would be generating 0%. The accurate number, photovoltaics' contributions for the year is 6.9%. If you read further into the report, you'll find the 50% number was only reached that 1 instance in 2014.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 19 weeks ago
#38

Ou812 -- When Thom said it, I assumed it was one instance in time. What struggle?

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