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This Is Why You Build Pipelines, Kids

A former State Department official who told me not long ago that Canadians are baffled—and exasperated—with President Obama’s opaque stance on the proposed Keystone pipeline.  This seems rather simple to me: Obama is in the clutch of the environmentalists, and the Canadians simply don’t understand that Obama is heedless of U.S.-Canadian trade relations.  Keystone has made blockheads out of the administration, which is why I think we should be calling it the “Blockhead” pipeline, because even a blockhead ought to be able to see that it should be built.

The alternative to a pipeline is to ship oil by railroad, which is already happening on a large scale not only for Canadian crude, but for the soaring output from North Dakota.  But shipping by rail is more expensive and, more importantly, risker than pipeline transport, as Casselton, North Dakota learned yesterday:

CASSELTON, N.D. (AP) — A mile-long train carrying crude oil derailed just a mile before it would have cut through the heart of a small North Dakota town, shaking residents with a series of explosions that sent flame and black smoke skyward. No one was hurt, but officials were evacuating as many as 300 people as a precaution.

The mile-long BNSF Railway Co. train left the tracks about 2:30 p.m. Monday, and as many as 10 cars caught fire. They were still burning four hours later as darkness fell, and authorities said they would be allowed to burn out.

Cass County Sheriff’s Sgt. Tara Morris said the evacuation of a section of the town Casselton was a precaution in case of a wind shift. A thick smoke plume from the burning cars was largely staying to the southeast of town. Casselton has about 2,400 residents and is about 25 miles west of Fargo. . .

The derailment happened amid increased concerns about the United States’ increased reliance on rail to carry crude oil. Fears of catastrophic derailments were particularly stoked after last summer’s crash in Canada of a train carrying crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken oil patch. Forty-seven people died in the ensuing fire.

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