Are more oil trains headed for Minnesota?

Ann Arbor Miller for MPR News

Will Keystone XL pipeline delays mean more oil trains passing through Minnesota?

TransCanada, the company that wants to build the Keystone pipeline to move oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries, says it’s now considering increased rail shipments in place of new pipeline capacity.

The environmental impact statement on the Keystone pipeline expansion laid out a rail shipping scenario that included this map of proposed routes for as many as 14 unit trains of oil per day. Unit train is a term that generally refers to engines hauling about 100 cars.

State Department / TransCanada

Add that to the increasing oil train traffic from the Bakken oil fields in western North Dakota (estimated to reach more than 14 trains per day later this year)  and there’s the potential for 25 to 30 oil trains a day moving through  parts of Minnesota.

The thick tar-like bitumen from Canada is not as volatile as the light crude from the Bakken.  According to experts,  the heavy crude is often mixed with lighter oil , such as Bakken crude, to make it flow more easily.  Tank cars that can be heated with steam are also used to transport the heavy oil.  The oil is heated to speed unloading.

Cities and towns along the rails in Minnesota are rethinking how well prepared they are for an accident involving an oil train.

That worry became very real in December after a derailment, fire and explosions just across the state line in Casselton, North Dakota, were triggered by crude oil cars from the Bakken oil fields.

  • Daniel Thomas

    All I can say is they had better be charged a very very very very high tax for coming through MY TOWN with horns blasting at 50mph. At all times of the day and night.disrupting my peace and quiet assholes…………….

  • JC

    So this oil is supposed to get from ND to the Gulf magically!?!?!

    What is this very, very, very , very high tax going to accomplish?

    How about this – those that don’t want the pipeline, nor think rail is the answer – how about cutting your consumption of petroleum products by 80-90 percent?

  • Katlyn

    Well, I don’t want rail or pipeline and I bet my petroleum consumption IS 80-90% of average. Using on-site renewable energy and a hybrid electric car, not to mention growing my own food, and only buying anything plastic if actually necessary is an important part if my life-style. Foreign based oil giants shouldn’t have the power to disrupt my life so they can transport unnecessary oil for other people to waste!

  • steve

    Hey to JC-
    We did cut our oil consumption by 80% over the last 5 years at our farm. Last summer we learned that Enbridge wanted to put a crude oil pipeline through our organic farm…isn’t that a big irony.
    Steve
    Spectrum Farm