The hazards of shipping North Dakotan crude-by-rail have been well documented and are the focus of new DOT regulations due to its volatility, but there's a more positive side to this oil and the trains that deliver it, illustrated in Philadelphia.
We recently reported on demonstrations in California at a Bay Area facility that would store oil from North Dakota that would be delivered by rail.
In Philadelphia, the report [listen here] by Katie Colaneri of Philadelphia's WHYY public radio station includes a celebration from last fall as the first oil unit train arrives from North Dakota at a huge refinery carrying the same volatile crude that has stirred the fears of Pittsburg, Calif. residents.
Why the different receptions to crude-by-rail from the Bakken shale formation? In Philadelphia, the combination of cheap Bakken crude and oil unit trains means that an aging oil refinery will not have to close. "Hundreds of workers were getting pink slips," states Colaneri.
Last fall, workers in blue jumpsuits applauded as a train hauling 120 black tanker cars full of crude oil from North Dakota pulled into the 140-year-old refinery complex in South Philadelphia.
Today, the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery is the single-largest consumer of North Dakota crude oil [and also "the largest oil refining complex on the U.S. Eastern seaboard", according to its website.]
However, energy analyst Kevin Lindemer with the firm IHS, tells Colaneri that pipelines would be preferable to oil trains.
Without pipelines to move it underground, increased traffic on the rails has resulted in more derailments across the country. In January, a derailment in Philadelphia left six tanker cars full of oil intact, but leaning across the tracks of a bridge that spans [the Schuylkill River] and a busy interstate.
In addition to pipelines to replace oil trains, natural gas pipelines are needed to access Pennsylvania's abundant natural gas from the Marcellus Shale, states the refinery's CEO, Phil Rinaldi, which "would revitalize the entire region...by build(ing) a dynamic, manufacturing-based economy."
Lindemer agrees. What's holding back the region is infrastructure, he emphasizes. And infrastructure means energy pipelines.
Arizona’s ‘Car-Free’ Community Takes Shape
Culdesac Tempe has been welcoming residents since last year.
4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design
With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.
Oregon Town Seeks Funding for Ambitious Resilience Plan
Like other rural communities, Grants Pass is eager to access federal funding aimed at sustainability initiatives, but faces challenges when it comes to meeting grant requirements.
How Infrastructure Communicates Values
The presence and quality of sidewalks, curb cuts, and other basic elements of infrastructure can speak to much more than just economic decisions.
Despite High Ridership, Intercity Bus Lines Are Eliminating Stations
Riders on the ‘forgotten stepchild’ of the U.S. transportation system find themselves waiting for buses curbside as Greyhound sells off its real estate in many U.S. cities.
Buffalo Residents Push Back on Proposed Cap Park
State and local officials say the $1 billion project will heal neighborhoods divided by the Kensington Expressway, but community members say the proposed plan will exacerbate already poor air quality in the area.
City of Grand Forks, North Dakota
HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
Harvard GSD Executive Education
City of Laramie, Wyoming
Colorado Department of Local Affairs
Lassen County Planning and Building Services
This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.