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Rail Disaster Spurs Debate Over Energy Transport in Region


Fifteen people have been confirmed killed and Quebec Police estimate 60 remain missing following the derailment and explosion Saturday of Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway cars carrying crude oil.   The Toronto Globe and Mail reports Quebec officials believe there are grounds for criminal prosecution. That comes as the chairman of the rail company visits the site of the devastation and blames the train engineer.
Two advocacy groups in Vermont are warning that the derailment that incinerated the center of a small city in Quebec’s Eastern Townships shows the dangers of continued use of fossil fuels.

Controversy is swirling over train and pipeline transport of crude oil materials following the destruction in Lac Megantic on Saturday. 350 Vermont and Rising Tide Vermont,   climate change action advocacy groups,  caution that the tragedy highlights the need to move away from fossil fuels. 350 Vermont Campaign Coordinator Andy Simon.

Vermonters for a Clean Environment Executive Director Annette Smith notes that natural gas and oil transport, whether by pipeline or rail, is inherently a safety risk, and the issues being raised in the wake of the Quebec tragedy are important.

Ethan Allen Institute Energy Education Project Director Meredith Angwin says better, cleaner energy is preferable, but doesn’t see the advocates delivering solutions to energy problems, nor transport issues.

Vermont Gas Systems has proposed a high-pressure natural gas transmission line in Addison County. That is among 350's Andy Simon’s concerns.

Vermont Gas spokesman Steven Wark says pipelines are among the safest modes of oil transport, and the company’s systems have been rated among the safest in the country.

350 Vermont is planning an environmental awareness Tar Sands Free Walk, a two-day hike along the Portland Montreal Pipeline in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom on July 19th and 20th.