Oil-train shipments likely to quadruple over next 10 years

An AP story on oil freight train accidents across the northern plains says: “At least 10 times since 2008, freight trains hauling oil across North America have derailed and spilled significant quantities of crude, with most of the accidents touching off fires or catastrophic explosions. The derailments released almost 3 million gallons of oil, nearly twice as much as the largest pipeline spill in the U.S. since at least 1986. … Over the next decade, rail-based oil shipments are forecast to increase from 1 million barrels a day to more than 4.5 million barrels a day, according to transportation officials.”

Some valuable data, via Adam Belz at the Strib: “Unemployment fell to 4.6 percent in December, and … overall employment has recovered what it lost in the downturn. But getting a good job is still a huge challenge for many Minnesotans, as a recent report from the Minnesota Budget Project shows. … Minnesotans without a high school diploma have an unemployment rate of 13.2 percent. … 16- to 24-year-olds are still unemployed at a rate of 9.1 percent.”

Another sign we’ve had enough winter … . From the Northland Newscenter in Duluth: “Communities in Minnesota and Wisconsin are asking residents to avoid pipe freeze-ups. This comes after several water pipes have frozen up over the past couple of weeks. Sanitary Districts in Washburn, Wis., Drummond, Wis., and Hibbing, Minn., would like residents to keep a faucet running, with a pencil-sized stream, at all times, until further notice. Experts estimate people will need to run their faucets until around March or whenever the ground thaws.”

For WCCO-TV, Esme Murphy reports: “[A] Minnesota legislator is now proposing a bill that would put e-cigarettes across under the same state-wide restrictions as cigarettes. The bill from DFL State Rep. Phyllis Kahn would limit the use of e-cigarettes under the Minnesota Clean Indoor Act. The bill would mean you could not use an e-cigarette in indoor buildings or public spaces that ban smoking, just like traditional cigarettes.” Briana Bierschbach has MinnPost coverage here.

Not a good start … Jim Adams of the Strib says: “The new year is off to a deadly start with 31 traffic fatalities through Feb. 12, a jump of 10 over a year ago, state officials said Sunday. Primary culprits behind the preliminary data released by the state Office of Traffic Safety are the lack of seat-belt use in 12 of the 31 road deaths, and another seven deaths linked to speeding.”

There’s something oxymoronic about an orderly demolition. Rochelle Olson of the Strib says: “A beam unexpectedly fell out of sequence in the Metrodome demolition Monday, bringing the teardown to a halt while investigators work to figure out what happened. No one was injured and all debris fell within the demolition safety zone, so no passersby were at risk of injury … Demolition requires the same precise engineering as construction and carries similar risks. Surprises are not welcome.” Oh, OK. Sorry.

The GleanBack to the Fifties … Susan Feyder of the Strib reports: “The Twin Cities is getting a new drive-in movie theater, bucking a trend that has seen their numbers dwindle from more than three dozen to just one in the metro area. The Elko New Market City Council has approved plans for a large outdoor movie theater at the Elko Speedway. Tom Ryan, president and owner of Elko Speedway, said Monday he’s hoping the theater will be open by Memorial Day.” How about a double feature of Elvis in “Speedway” and Ron “Opie” Howard in “Eat My Dust”?

A keeper … . Sam Cook of the Duluth News Tribune tells us: “The fish had taken all of his line. [Rob] Scott, 65, quickly managed to retrieve 6 or 8 feet of his 20-pound-test monofilament line. What ensued was an hour-long battle with an immense lake trout. The fish was 45 inches long, 32 inches in girth and unofficially weighed 52 pounds, 3 ounces on a hand-held digital scale, Scott said. … Scott, who had been fishing on the Ontario side of the lake, plans to have it mounted. Bill Congdon of Crane Lake has fished for lake trout in the same area where Scott caught his fish. ‘That’s an unbelievable fish for there,’ Congdon said. ‘Thirty-something would be a huge one. I’ve caught ’em 20. But 52-3?’ ” You betcha.

Big of ’em … Says Corey Mitchell in the Strib: “A Republican campaign group that set up fake 2014 election websites for Democrats, including Minnesota’s Collin Peterson, has tweaked the sites to make clear that donations sent through them will benefit the GOP. The National Republican Congressional Committee recently made the changes after Washington, D.C.-based watchdog groups raised concerns about the sites possibly violating Federal Election Commission rules.” What do they mean, “possibly”?

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 02/18/2014 - 01:43 pm.

    If Someone Set up a Fake Web Site for Your Bank

    or for your favorite online retailer, leading you to spend your money and get nothing in return it would be seen as nothing short of the CRIME of theft.

    Why are these fraudulent Republican web sites set up to look as if they are collecting money to support Democratic candidates while the money is really going to their Republican opponents any less the CRIME of theft?

    Is this not a prosecutable offense? Or have we gotten so used to the Republican Party’s wholesale lying, that this just seems to be more of the same old lying, cheating, stealing, and robbing us all blind in order to pad their own pockets that is their standard mode of operation?

    I don’t understand how anyone can hold their head up and call themselves a Republican when their party’s operatives, with the approval of the party leaders, seem to have the same high moral principles as the hackers who stole everyone’s credit/debit card information from Target between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Has the Republican Party really been reduced to this – operating like con artists and computer hackers? Richard Nixon looks like a paragon of virtue by comparison.

  2. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 02/18/2014 - 01:57 pm.

    Oil Trains vs. Oil Pipelines

    Stepping aside from the fact that we should be investing in alternative energy sources and efficiency which would render the entire subject irrelevant,..

    it’s clear that pipelines, if properly constructed and well maintained, represent a far safer and more efficient means of transporting oil and other fuels over long distances, than shipping such things in rail cars.

    The question is, why have pipelines NOT been properly constructed or why have they NOT been properly maintained to the effect that now they leak (and even explode) so frequently that the public is tremendously opposed to seeing a new pipeline go in anywhere?

    I don’t believe it is the public that has built pipelines out of inadequate materials nor is it the public that has failed to maintain those pipelines and keep them in such good repair that leaks NEVER happen (which should be the case).

    Could it be that, although the oil industry is outrageously profitable, it has, at the same time that it is swimming in money, neglected its infrastructure so massively, in order to maximize profits, increase shareholder value (and of course pump up executive compensation) that it has now put itself in this uncomfortable position?

    Of course it could also be a case of avoiding liability. When a pipeline ruptures, the public sees the oil companies as being the ones to blame. When a train derails and leaks or explodes, the public is more likely to see the railroad as being at fault (and make it the target of liability suits). The railroads are profiting from this boom in North American oil production right along with the oil companies, but I can’t help but suspect that, when it comes to the resulting oil spills and explosions the railroads are being left holding the proverbial bag, while the oil companies walk away free.

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