The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway has confirmed that the oil cars that exploded in that small town in Quebec came from North Dakota. It was from the huge Bakken reserve – the oil reserve that’s pretty much killed the idea America might run out of energy.
To get to eastern refineries, a lot of it has to move through Canada and as you might expect environmentalists in Canada are saying ‘I told you so.’
“This is a tragedy, but it’s also a scandal. The federal government knew that these cars were unsafe,” said a spokesman for Greenpeace Canada.
But supporters of the Keystone pipeline are also saying ‘I told you so’ – that an underground pipeline would be much safer.
In the meantime, most of the Bakken oil will travel by rail. Almost all of those shipments will arrive safely. The problem is the magnitude of what can happen when one of them doesn’t.
“There were some sparks, and the car lifted and came to lie in front of me, but I turned around and ran without stopping,” said one woman.
“The whole downtown was up in (a) blaze for about two or three minutes. It was the end of the world for us,” described another witness.
Seventy-three cars derailed in Quebec. But each day 1,000 tank cars leave North Dakota, rolling not just east through Canada, but west through a lot of small towns in the United States too. Some people think that’s a big risk, some people think it isn’t, but while the debate goes on, the oil will continue to flow.
In an economy where basically nothing is consumed anyplace close to where it’s made – we have no choice.