Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lax Regulation Is The Real Cause Of Both West Virginia Chemical Spill And Oil Train Explosions

Those screaming always about too much regulation have some explaining to do.

The chemical spill in West Virginia that polluted the drinking water of 300,000 people and the North Dakota oil train explosions have the same root cause: too little and too lax regulation.

In the West Virginia case, the tanks that stored two chemicals that leaked into the Elk river had been never inspected. Never!

And that accident waiting to happen was not an accident.  Apparently, West Virginia law gave no authority to environmental and regulatory agencies to inspect the storage tanks, even had state officials wanted to do so.

The same pattern of lax regulation is apparent in the big business of transporting North Dakota crude by oil. Four oil trains transporting North Dakota crude in tankers that are old and not-puncture resistant have exploded in fireballs. Forty-seven people are dead so far.

And why is so much volatile North Dakota crude transported in non-puncture resistant tankers? Various railroad interests have successfully delayed regulations and deadlines that would have phased out the use of non-puncture resistant oil tankers.

The disasters in West Virginia and on our rails show the high economic and environmental price of too little and too lax regulation.  We have been reminded once again that regulatory failure makes sure that accidents are just waiting to happen.

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