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Bill Owens: Those Oil Cars

I was traveling through Albany the other day and passed over the railroad tracks in downtown Albany, and as I did so, below me was an endless stream of oil tank cars.  I couldn’t tell if they were the famous DT111s, or the “safer 1232s.”  The recent accidents in Mount Carbon West Virginia and a remote area north of Timmons, Ontario, both resulted in substantial derailments and oil spills.  If you are stopped at any railroad crossing in northern New York, you will see endless streams of oil tank cars, as I observed in Albany. 

The question clearly remains, recognizing the need to transport this US oil from North Dakota, are we achieving the level of safety that we all expect with these trains traveling through our farmland, backyards, main lakes and rivers, and through our densely populated cities.  Understanding this is a difficult issue to resolve, nonetheless, we need to have a serious discussion, based upon scientific information,  to determine if there are safer railcars that could be put on the tracks, is speed a factor, is the condition of the rails themselves an issue, are local first responders provided enough information and assuming we will have accidents, are there adequate financial resources being accumulated to compensate victims and the public from contamination to farms, rivers, lakes, and in densely populated areas, lives?  

Former congressman Bill Owens represented New York's North Country from 2009 until retiring from the House in 2015. The Democrat is now a strategic advisor in the Washington Office of McKenna, Long and Aldridge, and a partner in the Plattsburgh firm of Stafford, Owens, Piller, Murnane, Kelleher and Trombly.


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