Thursday, October 30, 2014

Oil-by-rail option examined

VANCOUVER—A task force report has been handed in to the B.C. and Alberta governments that examines the idea of transporting oilsands’ crude via rail if proposed pipelines don’t get the green light, government documents show.
It’s an idea environmental group ForestEthics calls “underhanded.”

It’s a “backdoor way for industry to bring tankers to the coast without the same sort of public oversight or public process that we’ve had around the Enbridge pipeline or would have around the Kinder Morgan pipeline,” charged Ben West, campaign director for ForestEthics.
A joint provincial working group was announced by premiers Christy Clark and Alison Redford in July to develop recommendations related to energy exports and the opening of new export markets for products like bitumen for the two provinces, including pipeline and rail transport.
“Rail can be considered a viable alternative to pipeline movement based on costs of transport,” the terms of reference for the group states.
“If pipelines are not developed, rail will step into the void to deliver bitumen to the West Coast.”
But West said the report raises safety questions, especially in light of two recent high-profile train accidents.
Oil transport by rail has become a contentious topic after a train containing crude oil derailed and exploded in Lac-Megantic, Que. in July, killing 47 people.
Another train exploded without injuries last month in North Dakota.
“Myself and other people were pretty freaked out about what happened there,” West said of the two fiery blasts.
The provincial working group was mandated to submit a report to both leaders by the end of December.
An Alberta government official did not respond to a question about the completion or release of the report.
An official in Clark’s office, meanwhile, said the report is complete but that no date has been set for a public release.
CN Rail declined comment.

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