The people versus pipeline debate is not a new story. Protesters sit in trees along the pipeline right-of-way and hold hands to form a Red Rover-like wall at construction sites. People will lace up their gloves and step into the ring to protect what they fear is in danger. However, the pipeline industry isn’t some monster under your bed out to destroy everything in its path. The truth is that the pipeline industry’s chief concern is safety and protecting people along with the environment.
According to a Fraser Research report, rail transportation is 4.5 times more likely to have an incident than pipeline transportation. The report also states that only 17 percent of pipeline incidents take place in line pipe and that the rest develop in facilities. This means that pipelines are the way to go to protect our trees, oceans, wildlife and people.
In 2013, a 74-car freight train transporting Bakken crude derailed in downtown Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, killing 42 people. Multiple tank cars exploded with a .6-mile blast radius and leveled half of the surrounding metropolitan buildings. In addition, thirty-six of the buildings still standing were demolished due to petroleum contamination.
According to CBC, two out of three current residents have moderate to severe post-traumatic stress due to the event. Anxiety is also almost twice as high in Lac-Mégantic versus other cities in the region. CBC said that a railway safety advocate told the source that citizens still live in fear and are pushing for an alternate track that goes around the town to prevent another disaster.
Fraser Research addresses injuries and fatalities, giving pipelines the upper hand over rail. Rail is exponentially more likely to cause injuries or fatalities than pipeline incidents. The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research says that Americans have a better chance of being struck by lightning than suffering a fatality in a pipeline accident. How many times during a thunderstorm do you actually think about getting struck by lightning? Exactly.
We have around 500,000 miles of onshore and offshore pipeline in the U.S. and that number is climbing. We all need to put our picket signs down and do the research.
At the end of the day, oil and gas will find a vehicle for transportation and pipelines are the obvious choice.