Iowa Train Derailment a Strong Argument for Continued Infrastructure Investment


Fruitland, Iowa, was the site of an unfortunate accident last Friday, with six freight cars overturning just east of the city. No one was hurt in the incident, and the overturned cars were filled with automobiles.

The incident elicited a reaction from locals and jump- started a debate over the future of our infrastructure growth. Writing to the Muscatine Journal, one resident stated:

We need to take a serious look at infrastructure upgrades in this country, which includes energy infrastructure. I would feel much more comfortable shipping these resources through modern pipelines, and safer alternatives, instead of running it through our communities on trains.

America’s freight rail system is the envy of the world and a prime example of a private investment for public good. The Economist has described it as the “unsung transport successes of the past 30 years.” However, the Bakken oil boom has put this system to the test, straining it to the limits. The percentage of oil carried by rail in the United States has increased by over 4,000% since 2008. Iowa has 30 of these trains crossing the state every week, each carrying a million gallons of crude oil.

We believe that the time has come to let our rail system focus on transporting things that make the most sense, such as grain, manufactured items, and other goods. Petroleum products belong in pipelines, where they can be routed away from major population centers and monitored around the clock. Projects such as the Dakota Access Pipeline can help make that happen.