Heimdal, a tiny community in North Dakota, was severely affected by an oil train derailment last week, which caused six oil transport cars to catch fire and prompted the evacuation of the town. While no one was hurt, the accident raises the question; how can we safely transport energy throughout the Midwest?
Though our national freight rail system invests billions of dollars each year in rail infrastructure and railcar upgrades, incidents like the Heimdal derailment continue to occur. This negatively affects the schedule and safety of our rail network, and the communities that rely on freight lines for transportation of their products. Given these strains, we must look for more long term solutions to the current midstream bottleneck.
Lawmakers in our region have reached the same conclusion. North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple was quoted recently in saying that “pipelines offer the safest mode of crude oil transportation so we must also develop greater pipeline capacity.”
The statistics certainly prove him right. Energy projects such as the Dakota Access Pipeline will ensure that domestically produced oil will move to market via the most technologically advanced and safest means possible. The pipeline will also create thousands of local jobs, and generate significant amounts of tax revenue. Pipeline construction means fewer railcars dedicated to oil transport, and will free up space on the rails for our region’s crops.
While no mode of energy transportation will ever be perfect, diversifying transportation options for energy resources is the right thing to do. State executives and legislators in our region should take a look at the benefits of pipelines and support Governor Dalrymple’s leadership on pipeline construction.