On Television: Conservation And Rail Safety


On my regular Monday segment with Chris Berg on Valley News Live this week we discussed this post about conservation activists playing loose with the truth when it comes to their big ballot measure, as well as this post about North Dakota’s impending shift to shipping a lot more oil via pipeline.

To the first issue, I really think the toughest argument for the conservation groups backing the ballot measure is going to be defending that measure’s mandate to spend 75 percent of its accumulated funds. They go on and on about how a committee of appointees, and ultimately the State Industrial Commission, would control all the money. But it when the measure reads, “The commission must allocate no less than seventy-five percent nor more than ninety percent of the revenue deposited in the fund on an annual basis,” how can we say that there’s any real control over the spending?

They have to spend the money, whether they like the spending proposal presented to them or not. On what plan it is it fiscally responsible to put that sort of a spending mandate in the state constitution?

On the issue of pipelines, as I wrote yesterday, we’re on the cusp of a pretty big shift from rail to pipelines. By the end of the year we’ll have nearly 800,000 barrels per day of capacity. By the end of 2016 we’ll have over 1.4 million barrels per day of capacity (assuming all schedule projects are completed on time). That’s more capacity than we have production today.

That shift away from rails will cure a lot of problems with oil by rail shipments, not to mention rails too crowded to take other commodities. Like propane (see the shortage the region had this winter) and agriculture crops.