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Letter to the editor: N.D. needs to find viable solution for transporting oil

Bakken crude is explosive. Fortunately, the flammable natural gas liquids can be removed from the oil, optimally before filling the tanker cars and sending the volatile mixture by rail through small towns and big cities. But at the Pipeline Summit on June 24 in Bismarck, Gov. Jack Dalrymple said there were not enough facilities in place in North Dakota to make that a viable option (Reuters).

Viable for who? The oil companies? Is the governor concerned that the cash-strapped Bakken producers can’t afford the cost of buying the equipment and building the infrastructure to stabilize the oil? And since when is the governor a spokesman for the North Dakota Petroleum Council? Our state officials and regulators work for us. Supposedly.

The infrastructure will cost a bundle. That’s a shame. It should have been built years ago. It will cost $2.7 billion to rebuild Lac-Megantic and clean their lake. Forty-seven people are simply gone. Lac-Megantic’s economy, based on tourism, is circling the drain. Three major explosions have happened since. In Lynchburg, had the exploding tanker cars tipped to the right instead of falling toward the river, its downtown would be gone. And how many people?

On June 19 our state actually held a mock “tabletop” emergency drill involving a Bakken oil train derailment and explosion in Bismarck, or Fargo, with 60 casualties. Deaths. For what? To save oil companies some loot?

What is viable? Simply leave the oil in the ground until the stabilization infrastructure is in place, or burn off all of the explosive liquid gases before shipping. Either that or we continue to wait for the next fireballs. Maybe we’ll lose Velva, or Harvey or Mandan. Maybe chunks of Spokane or Albany. And more humans. Is that viable?