The Media's Selective Outrage Over Oil Train Derailments

Over the weekend an oil train derailed and caught fire in Ontario, Canada. It is the fourth oil train to derail there this year.

You probably didn’t hear about that latest derailment, or the three others in Ontario from this year or an ethanol train which derailed and exploded in Iowa last month, because none of those trains were carrying Bakken crude oil.

…train derailments/explosions involving ethanol or Canadian oil or other flammable materials don’t get hyped. Because they don’t fit the narrative.

The American media has decided that the only newsworthy train derailments are derailments involving Bakken crude oil. Because that’s the narrative. North Dakota oil is dangerous and explosive. North Dakota oil is why trains are derailing and exploding. Thus, the only way to stop the “bomb trains” (as some anti-oil activists have taken to calling them) is to carpet bomb North Dakota oil producers with new regulations.

Thus, train derailments/explosions involving ethanol or Canadian oil or other flammable materials don’t get hyped. Because they don’t fit the narrative.

The real problem is that we’re shipping entirely too much oil via rail, and the rail infrastructure can’t handle it. Even upgraded tanker cars don’t seem to be making a difference. The most recent derailment/explosion in Ontario involved upgraded tanker cars as did the derailment of Bakken crude in Galena, Illinois. The Wall Street Journal has noted that the tougher train cars don’t seem to be making much of a difference.

Clearly, fixing the tankers isn’t fixing the problem. The trains keep derailing.

Perhaps the rail industry can do something to fix that problem, but we could also help by taking some of the traffic off of overloaded rails.

President Barack Obama and environmental activists are currently fighting a war on pipelines. That has contributed to more oil-by-rail than our rail infrastructure can handle. The end game in all of this is for Obama and the activists to cripple the oil industry. It’s a war of attrition in which these zealots hope to making bringing oil up out of the ground and shipping it to market is as difficult as possible.

That’s great for Russia and Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Not so great for American companies and American workers and American mineral rights owners.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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