Greens plan week of protests against oil trains

Greens plan week of protests against oil trains

Environmental and safety groups are planning a week of protests against transporting crude oil by train, marking the second anniversary of a major oil train disaster in Canada.

The activists are asking regulators to crack down further on crude by rail and pushing local governments to ban such trains within their jurisdiction.

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“There is no safe way to transport extreme tar sands and Bakken crude,” environmental group ForestEthics said on a website promoting the protests across the United States and Canada.

“Two years after Lac-Mégantic, oil trains keep exploding and carbon pollution keeps rising,” the group said, referring to the Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, derailment and explosion that killed 47 people. “Oil trains are a disaster for our health, our safety, and our climate.”

ForestEthics and its allies said they are planning more than 100 events between July 6 and July 12 to call attention to oil train problems, following up on last year’s 63 events.

This year, the groups are paying special attention to environmental justice concerns, arguing that, since train tracks carrying crude oil are overwhelmingly in minority neighborhoods, those communities are most at risk.

“Exploding crude oil trains do not belong on the nation's rails, and 25 million Americans — most of them people of color — do not deserve to be living in a blast zone,” Lena Moffitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Dirty Fuels campaign, said in a statement.

“The Department of Transportation needs to take responsibility, and rather than put forward wholly inadequate rules that jeopardize the health and safety of communities along rail lines, the administration should ban bomb trains outright,” she said.

The Lac-Mégantic disaster is still front and center for environmental groups and regulators in both countries.

In May, regulators on both sides of the border announced plans to phase out the oldest oil train tankers within years, while tightening operational, braking and speed rules.

While the oil and freight rail industries have sued to stop some of the standards, environmentalists complain they do not go far enough.