crude by rail, oil and gas safety expert, Brigham McCown

Q & A: Former Federal Pipeline Regulator Brigham McCown, Part Two

By: Tom Curry

Here is part two of our interview with Brigham McCown, the former acting head of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. (Click here for part one)

From the data, is it clear that one mode of shipping oil is safer? Is it clear that pipelines are safer than rail?

Government data suggests that pipelines do have a slight advantage, but the caveat there is all modes are extremely safe and PHMSA obviously regulates vessels, rail, trucks, aircraft, as well as pipelines, the whole transportation spectrum.

I would argue pipelines are the most efficient … Pipelines are the only truly one-way transportation system. Everything else requires a round trip. So you have to double your mileage. A train car has to go from the Bakken to a place, and then you have to get that car back.

In a recent Minnesota debate, Gov. Mark Dayton said it would be wrong to approve the proposed Sandpiper Pipeline across his state just to satisfy people who want to transport oil through Minnesota and make money on the East Coast.

It’s difficult in some cases where people are taking a public policy argument and turning it into a NIMBY-ism type of argument or some other reason for opposition.

Those kind of remarks, along the line of ‘why should we have a burden’ or ‘why should we have a potential risk when there’s not a corresponding benefit,’ it’s a very dangerous argument.

We have to remember that as a country we’re an integrated transportation network; we’re all in this together….

See the article on Roll Call

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