Last March I interviewed internationally recognized energy expert David Hughes at his home on Cortes Island. Publication of this story was delayed, in part, because of a six minute segment in which he discussed some of the issues raised in his newly published report Will the Trans Mountain Pipeline and Tidewater Access Boost Prices and Save Canada’s Oil Industry?However we touched upon a wide range of subjects, including Tight Oil, Canada’s Pipeline Capacity & the Trans Mountain Pipeline’s feasibility.
Though both Washington and California call for rail companies to submit oil spill contingency plans, this is not yet a requirement in Oregon. Legislation was introduced in 2015, but the railway industry successfully lobbied against it. This could be changing. On Tuesday January 3, 2016, Oregon introduced legislation protecting communities against oil-by-rail spills.
There were good reasons to exempt railroads from local control when they were first built across North America, but that has changed. The railways might never have been built, if the had not been protected from a multitude of municipal taxes and regulations. There are different challenges today. The question is whether local communities have a right to decide what projects make sense for them. This is the central issue behind the council vote Tuesday night, when Whatcom County imposed 60 day moratorium on unrefined oil projects.
The lag bolts whose failure caused the recent oil-by-rail accident at Mosier were “relatively new.” According to Hal Gard, Administrator of the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Rail and Public Transit Division, “new rail was installed at this location in 2013.” In a newly surfaced email to the Federal Rail Administrator for Region 8, this Oregon transportation Officer calls for an oil train moratorium.