There are many public servants and oil executives to blame for their silence but only Kevin Cramer, Mr. North Dakota way, thinks he deserves a seat in the United States Senate. So, he has to answer for his failures.
“It took “more than 1,000 firefighters from 80 different municipalities in Quebec and from six counties in the state of Maine” to help with evacuations and fire-fighting efforts in the small town (Lac-Megantic) of only a few thousand people, according to a Transportation Safety Board of Canada report.” — Bellingham Herald
That was in was in July 2013. Forty-seven people died when a Bakken oil train careened off the tracks, which led to a series of violent explosions. Five victims were vaporized.
“(Congressman Kevin) Cramer said after 10 years (2003 to 2012) on North Dakota’s Public Service Commission, he was confident the state’s oil was safe.” —The Minot Daily News Sept. 12, 2014
I could go into why his statement to The Minot Daily News was so sociopathically dangerous and irresponsible because there were many more Bakken oil train disasters to come, but his inaction before and after one particular incident explains where his heart lies.
2008. Just outside of Luther, Okla., and 30 miles from Oklahoma City, the first train hauling Bakken crude derails and explodes. Big red flag.
(Would this spur you to action? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ec1JtY5kfXE)
“Among 14 cars that derailed in mixed freight train, eight cars of crude oil derailed. All spilled their contents, three from large gashes in their shells. The spilled oil caught fire and caused a massive explosion that was captured by a local TV news crew in a helicopter. About 35 people were evacuated but returned to their homes the same day. Crude oil originated in Fairview, Mont., in the Bakken region. Incident could have been an early sign of Bakken oil’s flammability.” — McClatchey, Jan. 27, 2014
Fairview straddles the North Dakota, Mont., border, but if any train originating in the Bakken explodes, it would raise concerns with any regulator with a conscience. No worries there.
But oil trains had stopped exploding on impact many decades ago, right?
Yes, but it was hurry hurry in the Bakken. The oil barons deliberately chose not to remove the explosive heptane, pentane, methane, propane, butane, ethane, isobutane and so on from the crude oil before filling the tanker cars. It was a choice. Oil companies decided, and regulators, like Kevin, looked the other way.
“The oil industry says there is a ready market for the extracted gases in Texas, but none in North Dakota. Therefore, say the producers, the explosive gases are best shipped to refineries while still dissolved in the crude.” — Railway Age
Kevin Cramer knew what was in the liquid coming out of the ground, and he knew the concoction they poured into the tanker cars, which were designed to haul corn syrup. And since trains have been derailing since they were invented, he knew what was likely to happen.
Unless Kevin was really bad at his job. It’s possible. Neither option is flattering.
Luther, Okla.; Lac-Megantic, Quebec; Aliceville, Ala.; Casselton, N.D.; Lynchburg, Va.; and more big booms, until Mosier, Ore., on June 3, 2016.
The fire chief of Mosier is still whiter than usual and shaking, just at the thought of what the damage would have been when a single sheared-off track bolt caused the derailment, fire and explosion of a Bakken oil train that would have burnt down the entire town had the wind been blowing like normal through the Columbia River Gorge. Spilled oil gummed up their sewage system, but none reached the river, so yay for abnormal weather conditions.
Trains are still making runs to the West Coast, and a facility was finally built in North Dakota to refine the explosive gases. All of the gases, for all of the wells? I don’t know.
On Sept. 23, 2014, the North Dakota Industrial Commission holds a hearing:
“They (oil execs) testified that the oil was already safe, that train accidents were few and far between, and that regulations would cost the industry a lot of money.” — Prairie Public
Kevin Cramer, the proud owner of an oddly configured brain, said it is “discriminatory” to call Bakken crude by it’s given name, in a feeble attempt to obscure the source of the danger from the rest of the continent.
His words: “Well, whenever they refer to it as Bakken crude, you have to conclude they are discriminating because crude is not categorized, or characterized by its origin, by its location, by it’s geography.
“It should be characterized by its characteristics, it’s scientific and chemical make-up, so I think the rhetoric gets a little reckless. It tends to favor a particular point of view, a bias in advance, and that’s what I want to do away with on the 9th.
“I don’t know whether that (stabilization) is necessary or not. That’s part of what we will be exploring in our hearing in the science committee, because is it scientifically possible to strip it out? Obviously, of course, it is … but when you apply not just that, but the economics, and remember, you can strip those light elements off of the crude, but that has to be shipped as well, so in many respects, filling a train with nothing but the light elements, the more explosive, if you will, elements, and making that a bullet train; I’m not sure that is the right answer, so scientifically can you do it, sure, but you have to look at it holistically and consider all of the other elements; including economics, and is the benefit of doing something like that trump other things like speed of trains, and what kind of cars. There are other things to consider. That’s why I think a congressional hearing is the next best step, dealing specifically with the science of the crude.” — Kevin Cramer
“There are some benefits frankly to the stabilization process and that is stripping some of the liquids, some of the other gases off and using them in the marketplace. That is a far better solution that just stripping it for the sake of stripping it.” Kevin Cramer
Free market ideology over public safety.
And this Cramer gem: “When you strip it, you now have highly explosive gases that have to get to market somehow. They have to go into a pipeline, they have to go on the train, making it even more explosive.”
“RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT is a crime consisting of acts that create a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person. The accused person isn’t required to intend the resulting or potential harm, but must have acted in a way that showed a disregard for the foreseeable consequences of the actions.” USLegal.com
Is it any surprise that Harold Hamm is the Cramer campaign finance chair?
Kevin will do or say anything to protect his oil buds, even at the expense of human lives.