Oil-Train-in-Seattle-by-Brendan-DeMelle.jpeg

VIDEO: Government, Industry Ignore Scientific Case For Improving Crude By Rail Safety, Let Bomb Trains Roll On

Since the tragic Bakken oil train accident that extinguished 47 lives in Lac-Megantic, Quebec in July 2013, seven more Bakken oil trains have derailed, resulting in accidents involving large fires and explosions. We now know that oil produced in North Dakota's Bakken Shale formation is extremely volatile due to its high natural gas liquid content — resulting in the “bomb train” phenomenon.

DeSmog’s new investigative video, written and produced by Justin Mikulka, details a coordinated effort by the oil industry, members of the U.S. Congress, regulators and the Department of Energy to challenge the known science of crude oil characteristics with the goal of delaying or avoiding any regulatory changes requiring Bakken crude oil stabilization, a safety measure that would protect the millions of people currently living in bomb train blast zones.

Stabilization is the process that removes the volatile natural gas liquids from the crude oil, resulting in a “stable” petroleum product with greatly reduced volatility and flammability.

DeSmog has reported extensively on the oil-by-rail policy battle, including an investigation that revealed the direct role of the White House in working with North Dakota regulators to avoid any requirements for oil stabilization for the Bakken crude. 

The success of their misdirection campaign is evident — the mainstream media is largely overlooking this critical issue when the public needs referees to ask the tough questions on this vulnerability in our crude oil by rail protocols. Yet a Wall Street Journal article this week on how to make oil safe to transport didn’t even mention stabilization.

The video uses archival information from American Petroleum Institute videos, Congressional hearing testimony, news clips and more to reveal how the oil industry has avoided regulation in order to continue transporting dangerous Bakken crude by rail at maximum profit.

Warning: This video contains science, humor and political theater all in one — a volatile mix indeed!

WATCH: DeSmogCAST: The Science of Bomb Trains

Image credit: Oil train passing through Seattle, by Brendan DeMelle

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When those boxes of heavily redacted documents start to pile in, reporters at The Narwhal waste no time in looking for kernels of news that matter the most. Just ask our Prairies reporter Drew Anderson, who gleefully scanned through freedom of information files like a kid in a candy store, leading to pretty damning revelations in Alberta this spring. Long story short: the government wasn’t being forthright when it claimed its pause on new renewable energy projects wasn’t political. Just like that, our small team was again leading the charge on a pretty big story

In an oil-rich province like Alberta, that kind of reporting is crucial. But look at our investigative work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline to the west, or our Greenbelt reporting out in Ontario. They all highlight one thing: those with power over our shared natural world don’t want you to know how — or why — they call the shots. And we try to disrupt that.

Our journalism is powered by people just like you. We never take corporate ad dollars, or put this public-interest information behind a paywall. Here’s the thing: we need 300 new members to join this month to meet our budget. Will you join the pod of Narwhals that make a difference by helping us uncover some of the most important stories of our time?

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