Act Rationally, Not Rashly, Following Shipping Accidents

Morning Consult, Mark Chubb, 7/15/16

The recent oil train crash in Oregon has renewed calls for a ban on shipping crude by rail.  But while calling for a ban on oil rail shipments might make for good politics, the reality is that such a ban is so impractical that proposals to do so are dead on arrival.

A more responsible approach is to ensure that emergency managers and first responders are adequately equipped and trained to handle accidents on the rare and unfortunate occasions when they do occur.

The Oregon accident made national headlines because it was such a rare event.  Rail is one of the safest and most efficient modes of transporting oil and other hazardous materials.  In 2014 alone, for example, freight rail carried more than 525,000 carloads of crude oil, and more than 99.99 percent of these shipments safely reached their destinations.

Despite the safe handling of rail oil shipping, the urge to restrict the shipping of hazardous materials after high-profile accidents — whether by rail, highway or waterway — is understandable.  But while many Americans may not realize it, the efficient and safe movement of oil and other chemicals enables the quality of life comforts we take for granted.

See the full article here.