The Telegram & Gazette of Worcester (Mass.), Feb. 19, 2015
The town of Boomer, West Virginia lived up to its name when 26 cars of a 109-tanker car CSX train derailed in the middle of the night, and 19 of them were engulfed in flames, shaking residents out of their sleep and producing hours of toxic fumes.
The derailment and fire were just the latest in a string of such mishaps involving rail transportation of crude oil, which has increased by more than 40 times since 2009, when shale oil and tar sands oil production in the U.S. Midwest and Canadian plains began to ramp up.
But the difference this time around is that the tankers involved in their derailment and fire were a newer type built to more stringent safety specifications, and supposedly less prone to rupture.
Railroad operators and governments in both the U.S. and Canada agree that the new design is the way to go, but the Feb. 16 accident shows that physics can often trump improved design.
It's all the more reason that North America should proceed with the expansion of pipelines for crude oil transport.
Blocking the Keystone XL pipeline and similar projects makes no sense, from either a safety or policy perspective. Oil that has been extracted and sold must be transported. Both pipelines and rail lines have a role to play, but the former are simply safer.
The Journal Inquirer of Manchester (Conn.), Feb. 16, 2015
The murder of three young adults in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is not only deplorable but was probably avoidable if strong background checks had been demanded on those attempting to buy guns.
The fact that the three were of Muslim descent has raised a question as to whether their religion was a motive for the murderer's crime.