The July 9 editorial “Runaway train” continues to propagate the notion that the nation’s energy needs can be met only by pipelines or railroads, and that one mode of transportation is better than the other. The truth is that the nation needs both railroads and pipelines to transport crude oil safely and reliably, and each has a role to play in enhancing U.S. energy security. Furthermore, environmentalists’ claims that there should be no shipments of oil for the safety of the nation are unrealistic, and fighting the transport of fossil fuels is an untenable path to achieving the noble goal of 100 percent renewable energy.
The events in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, this month were tragic, and those in the U.S. rail industry are closely following the investigation and what it reveals about the safe movement of crude oil. The accident notwithstanding, it remains true that hazardous materials accidents and spills from freight rail are exceedingly rare, with 99.997 percent of all hazardous materials shipments reaching their destination without a release caused by a train accident. In 2012, railroads set safety records, continuing a string of annual achievements reaching back decades. The freight rail industry remains focused on continually improving its safety record and ensuring that the goods we haul reach their destination securely.
Edward R. Hamberger, Washington
The writer is president and chief executive of the Association of American Railroads.