May 11, 2014

The Post is correct that federal regulators must act to protect our communities, wildlife and natural resources from oil spills from trains [“Risky business,” editorial, May 5], but its prescribed fix of moving more oil by pipeline is like “curing” alcoholics by telling them to switch from beer to bourbon.

More than 1.15 million gallons of crude oil spilled from rail cars in 2013, according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. But that figure was nearly matched by just the top two of a series of oil pipeline spills last year: An 840,000-gallon oil pipeline rupture in North Dakota in October and the 210,000-gallon Exxon Mobil Pegasus tar sands oil pipeline disaster in Mayflower, Ark., in March. These aren’t rare occurrences — they’re tragically common. In 2011, an Exxon Mobil pipeline spilled 63,000 gallons into the Yellowstone River, and in 2010, an Enbridge pipeline gushed 843,000 gallons into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River.

The only way to cure our addiction to oil and reduce its tragic side effects is to use less of it. President Obama’s stronger fuel-economy standards are a good start, and he can send a clear message that the United States doesn’t intend to relapse by rejecting the dangerous, climate- disrupting Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Felice Stadler, Washington

The writer is senior director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Climate and Energy Program.