Could rerailing pipeline projects cut oil trains in Washington?

Could President Trump's executive order to expand two oil pipelines mean fewer oil trains going through Washington's back yards?

SEATTLE – President Donald Trump said Tuesday he would push to complete two pipeline projects held up or canceled by the Obama administration, which could affect crude oil traveling into Washington state.

The Keystone XL pipeline was built primarily to bring crude oil from the Canadian province of Alberta to refiners along America's Gulf coast. The Dakota Access pipeline, held up because of protests where it was to cross the Missouri River, is also in play and also focused on bringing crude to the Gulf.

With so much North Dakota and Alberta crude heading to the five refineries in Washington State, will completion of the pipeline curtail the numbers of crude oil unit trains heading through Washington State and Oregon?

"We're going to bring the gulf coast refiners and shippers from North Dakota and Alberta to Portland to discuss with our legislators, our first responders," said Bruce Agnew with the Pacific Northwest Economic Region, a regional organization representing northwest states in the U.S. and western Canadian provinces.

Currently, Washington's biggest railroad, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, says 11 to 16 trains a week travel through the state.  Just last week the first quarterly report to quantify the amount and types of crude coming by rail into Washington was completed the State Department of Ecology. It found 35 percent of the crude consumed by the state's refiners was coming by rail.  There was no crude coming by rail before 2012.

Last year, Agnew helped organize the Oil Train Safety Symposium in Lakewood, put on by the Center for Regional Disaster Resilience. That symposium in late April brought first responders, railroads, and experts from around North America to try and learn more about the risks and look for ways to minimize them. 

A little over a month later, a Union Pacific oil train derailed in Mosier, Ore. The accident blamed on bad track bolts that track inspection equipment failed to detect, according to an investigation by the Federal Railroad Administration and state investigators. 

Copyright 2016 KING


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