Dayton concerned about BNSF oil trains in Twin Cities

The railroads run this town; the governor just writes strongly worded letters. David Shaffer and Eric Roper report in the Star Tribune: “Gov. Mark Dayton has told BNSF Railway’s top executive that he is ‘deeply concerned’ about the recent increase in Bakken oil trains on western suburban tracks into downtown Minneapolis, saying it puts an additional 99,000 people at risk. … In a letter to BNSF CEO Carl Ice released Wednesday, the governor asked the railroad not to operate oil trains on the line that passes Target Field when events are underway at the stadium, to extend first-responder training to all communities along the route and assess it for a worst-case accident.”

3M cutting jobs. MPR’s Jon Collins reports: “Maplewood-based 3M Co. announced that it will cut 1,500 jobs worldwide within the next few months. … A 3M spokesperson said about 500 of the job losses will occur in the U.S., although it isn’t yet clear how many of those jobs will be in Minnesota. The rest of the job reductions will take place in Europe, the Middle East and Latin America, according to the spokesperson.”

And bad news from MnSCU, too. Josh Verges writes in the Pioneer Press, “The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system has revealed an unanticipated $12.7 million hit to its finances as enrollment continues to slip and contract talks prove costlier than expected. … MnSCU had planned for a 1.8 percent drop in enrollment this fall, but the actual decline was 2.6 percent, trustees learned this week. Meanwhile, union contract negotiations will raise compensation costs by 3.4 percent, more than an anticipated 3 percent.”

The future is now. In the Star Tribune, Shannon Prather reports, “The Anoka County jail has rolled out an eye-scanning identification system for inmates, an apparent first in Minnesota. … All of the 11,000 or so inmates booked into the jail each year will have their irises photographed, and the images will be stored for future use. … ‘It’s a quicker and extremely accurate version of a fingerprint check,’ said Anoka County jail Cmdr. Dave Pacholl.”

In other news…

“It’s Been 26 Years Since Jacob Wetterling Was Abducted” [WCCO]

Bob Collins attempts to explain “What’s the big deal with Dunkin’?” [MPR]

Best Buy offering free shipping through the holidays, which now last one quarter of the year, apparently. [Star Tribune]

“Twin Cities man’s $25 online fantasy football bet earns him $1M” [Star Tribune]

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Pat Berg on 10/22/2015 - 02:07 pm.

    Dunkin’ Donuts in “Eastern Minneapolis”

    My favorite part of the MPR article (http://www.mprnews.org/story/2015/10/21/dunkin-donuts):

    “When they said ‘Eastern Minneapolis’? They actually meant ‘St. Paul.’ (via the Pioneer Press)”

  2. Submitted by Bill Willy on 10/22/2015 - 03:45 pm.

    Barking up the wrong oil tanker tree

    First thing to say is I don’t think the Governor or the state of MN has the power, authority, etc., to force the railroads (or ND oil companies, really), to do what they should to ensure public rail car-related safety (pretty sure it’s a federal issue), but when it comes to preventing them from exploding, “degasification” of the crude before it’s loaded into the cars is the simplest, most cost-effective (for the public) way to go. That process removes the explosive gases, and has been done forever in the pipeline sector (by regulation).

    As usual, ND oil business people don’t want to do it because it would cost them money, and they’d rather take their chances on whatever their liability might be for any “mishaps” (which, of course, may be non-existent, or only partial, because it’s the railroads that are moving it, not them).

    This article gives a good overview of the process and ND situation:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/12/us-davegrailways-safety-crude-idUSBREA4B0JD20140512

    And this one, “North Dakota seizes initiative in CBR degasification,” from a little over a year ago (don’t know what the current status is), talks about what’s happening in that regard next door. No idea how such things work, but if there’s anything MN could do to support or join in on ND’s efforts to apply regulatory pressure on the oil companies, that might be helpful too:

    “The vital other shoe in crude by rail reform will drop not in Ottawa or Washington, but in Bismark, N.Dak., where, in the void created by federal inaction, officials are preparing to use state jurisdiction over natural resources to order the degasification of petroleum at the wellhead.”

    http://www.railwayage.com/index.php/regulatory/north-dakota-seizes-initiative-in-cbr-degasification.html

    And “just to show” I’m no “armchair blabber” on this issue, probably every single crude oil tanker car that has ever rolled through the Metro area has rumbled by my house (at 40 or 50 mph) which sits something like 500 to 800 feet from the southeast-bound tracks. I almost never notice them, but I can just about read the numbers on the cars when the leaves are off the trees and I’m out in the yard… I’ve thought about writing to Warren Buffet to ask him to build a couple hundred feet of 20-foot high, reinforced steel blast wall along “my section” of track (Berkshire Hathaway owns BNSF), but we all know how that would go.

    Oh well. A little quiet dangerous living adds spice to life, no? (There’s goes another one right now.) Thousands of “bomb trains” have gone by since the ND boom began and, knock on wood, so far so good!

  3. Submitted by Paul Wulterkens on 10/23/2015 - 05:12 am.

    Can’t Cities Work With The Railroads?

    This story is a welcome one in that, around the country, relationships between cities in the oil train blast zone and the railroads are not nearly this friendly. In my home town, St. Paul, MN, the railroad has taken the arrogant position that it need not cooperate at all local or state governments since it answers only to the Federal Railroad Administration, the FRA.
    They are correct in their reading on the law of the land. The country has said, wisely, that the railroad cannot be answerable to every local jurisdiction. Moreover, the country has said that the railroads are essential, again, no argument from me, and that therefore there can be a close relationship between the industry and the regulator, so much so that the industry pretty much writes the rules it lives by. In practice, given railroad lobbyists, the FRA is going to get much more input from the big seven railroads than from the 16 million residents of the blast zones.
    Let them hear from you. Sign the petition at http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/enforce-railroad-health?source=s.fwd&r_by=1718159

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