Oil trains, pipelines offer false choice

Thane Maxwell

Building and expanding crude-oil pipelines will not get oil trains off our railways. I repeat, building pipelines will not get oil trains off our railways. We do have serious rail congestion and derailment problems, but new pipelines will not solve either. The choice between rail and pipeline is a myth. Media coverage and public-policy discourse are consistently wrong about this. People have a right to know the truth, and policy decisions should be based on fact.

Rails and pipelines both transport crude oil, and both endanger public safety and natural resources doing it. Otherwise, they are different animals. They play entirely different roles in our energy-infrastructure networks. They are not substitutes.

The common misconception is that the industry faces a choice to ship oil by truck, rail or pipeline, and that the choice depends on the available capacity of each. This is false. The choice depends on the specific geographic and economic realities of the different transportation modes.