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Oil Trains & Export Terminals

Transparent Statement:
Oil trains are just too dangerous, but I am ok with exporting oil in general.

Until my Flintstone car (aka "bicycle") can get my family and me everywhere we need to go in a reasonable amount of time, it would be hypocritical of me to just blindly criticize the oil & gas industry.

No, I am not a fan of fracking, primarily due to the water pollution it causes. But I am not against gas and oil development per se, if done responsibly. Unlike most environmentalists, I am actually not against oil export terminals — assuming they are built and operating in a responsible, environmentally-acceptable manner.

Oil is the one industry in the US that was explicitly restricted from exporting its product. As a business person, that seems wrong to me. I am aware of the arguments that if the oil came from our ground, it should be sold in our country, especially to ensure an adequate supply against another potential Arab embargo. But we allow every other industry to export commodities that have been grown, mined or produced in the US regardless of US demand: apples, wheat, beef, and even coal. So why should oil be the only industry that is singled out?

I am against oil trains though. There are the same concerns as coal trains in terms of traffic. But more importantly, oil trains have proven to be extremely dangerous. They use old rail cars that cannot withstand even a minor train accident. The Bakken oil they carry is extremely volatile and prone to exploding.

Even if the railroads upgrade every oil car to the newest standard, there is still a huge amount of risk that seems impossible to mitigate and protect against. The trains themselves will put many communities at risk of a derailment. There is also no way to safeguard the Columbia River against a major oil spill.

Ironically, the solution to avoid oil trains is an oil pipeline, which tend to be significantly safer than oil trains. However, recently even pipelines have been rupturing and leaking huge amounts of oil into waterways. And oil companies have yet to demonstrate a true commitment to both avoid oil spills and cleaning up when they occur.

So unless we can truly minimize the risk of oil spills (and explosions), I am against the oil trains and thus the oil export terminals.

Steve Rubenstein for Governor | Privacy Policy