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November 24, 2014

Posts in "Environment"

November 19, 2014

Now Let’s Prep For The Next Keystone XL Vote

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Sen. Heidi Heitkamp. D-N.D., voted to approve the Keystone XL pipeline Tuesday (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After the Senate fell one vote short of approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline Tuesday, Sen. Mitch McConnell, soon to be the Senate majority leader, vowed that another vote “will be an early item on the agenda in the next Congress.”

Since the Keystone XL issue will soon be back, note that even one of its most ardent supporters, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., doesn’t buy the argument made by Republican proponents that building it will ease freight railroad congestion.

Bakken crude oil is moved by rail from her state to refineries in other parts of the country, but has caused backups for shippers of other products.

Full story

November 17, 2014

Would Keystone XL Ease Rail Congestion?

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Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., Sen. John Hoeven, R-N. Dak., and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., mke the case for the Keystone XL at a press conference in September. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate will vote Tuesday on a bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil sands crude from Canada and Bakken crude oil from North Dakota and Montana to a hub in Nebraska for delivery to Gulf Coast refineries. The House passed the bill on Friday.

The vote has election year resonance in the Louisiana Senate race, but for our purposes the pertinent question is: if the pipeline is built, what effect would it have on rail congestion in the northern Plains and Midwest?

Full story

November 5, 2014

Ebola Is Airports’ Rehearsal for Bigger Pandemic

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The main terminal at Washington Dulles International Airport. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

As the Ebola outbreak puts U.S. airport managers’ skills to the test, it’s providing a valuable training course for the next pandemic disease, one that might be more easily transmitted and might affect far many more passengers.

Christopher Browne, vice president and airport manager at Washington Dulles International Airport, told a panel on pandemic diseases at the American Association of Airport Executives’ aviation security summit Wednesday that “part of my duties is to chase anonymous vomit. That’s what my job has become.”

Full story

October 28, 2014

Q & A: Former Federal Pipeline Regulator Brigham McCown, Part Two

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It isn’t just oil that is transported by rail: here’s a chlorine tanker car in Virginia (Photo: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)

Here is part two of our interview with Brigham McCown, the former acting head of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. (Click here for part one)

From the data, is it clear that one mode of shipping oil is safer? Is it clear that pipelines are safer than rail?

Government data suggests that pipelines do have a slight advantage, but the caveat there is all modes are extremely safe and PHMSA obviously regulates vessels, rail, trucks, aircraft, as well as pipelines, the whole transportation spectrum.

Full story

October 24, 2014

Friday Q & A: Former Federal Pipeline Regulator Brigham McCown, Part One

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Gasoline tanker cars parked at a refinery in California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Brigham McCown served under President George W. Bush as acting head of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHSMA), which regulates shipment of materials ranging from oil to hazardous medical waste.

He also served as chief counsel of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which oversees trucking and buses.

He has formed the Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure, a non-profit that will promote “innovative technologies and safer outcomes for national infrastructure projects.”

Here are some excerpts of our conversation with McCown:

Because of the public’s fear of accidents in shipping crude oil by rail, is more shipment going to shift to pipelines?

In a lot of instances, transportation infrastructure tends to lag the development of areas…. We’re now obtaining oil from locations where we previously haven’t.

While there is a mature pipeline infrastructure system in Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, for example, it’s not unusual that that infrastructure lags behind production in the Bakken.

Full story

By Tom Curry Posted at 11:44 a.m.
Environment, Rail

October 22, 2014

Boeing: Oil Price Won’t Hurt Demand for Fuel-Efficiency

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Boeing is counting on sustained demand for its fuel-efficient 787 aircraft (Photo credit should read Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images)

Aircraft manufacturer Boeing reported healthy profits Wednesday as Boeing Chairman and CEO Jim McNerney assured investors that declining oil prices won’t crimp airlines’ desire to buy more fuel-efficient planes.

McNerney seemed to allude to events such as the shooting down of Malaysia Flight 17 over Ukraine in July when he said, “Notwithstanding a somewhat richer mix of global economic and geopolitical developments throughout this year, which we are monitoring very carefully, global passenger traffic trends are strong and air cargo traffic continues to gradually improve, although the latter still remains a watch item for us.”

Full story

Bipartisan Accord on Travel Ban? Well, Maybe

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New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There was bipartisan accord in Tuesday night’s New Hampshire Senate debate that barring travelers from three Ebola-affected African countries is, or at least might be, necessary.

And there was bipartisan accord about the need to be bipartisan. And yet Republican candidate Scott Brown repeatedly attacked President Obama’s handling of the Ebola outbreak.

Full story

October 15, 2014

Ebola Issue Poses Campaign Opportunities And Risks

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Colorado Republican Senate candidate Rep. Cory Gardner (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With Election Day 20 days away, the Ebola outbreak has become a campaign issue — on that presents as many pitfalls as opportunities.

Rep. Cory Gardner, the Republican Senate candidate in Colorado, will get an opportunity Thursday to demonstrate that he’s engaged in dealing with the outbreak.  Full story

October 14, 2014

European Agency Doubts Value of Ebola Screening

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Travelers at the international arrivals terminal at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport where new Ebola screening began Saturday. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investing time and money in examining passengers from Ebola-affected countries at five U.S. airports, our colleague Paul Jenks reports that the European counterpart to the CDC came out with a report over the weekend that questions the value of such an effort.

The European agency says entry screening “is likely to have an exceedingly low yield and represents a high investment, which may only contribute to a limited extent, to the prevention of importation of the disease.” More here….

 

The Week Ahead: Foxx And Inhofe, Delta’s Assessment, Ebola Hearing

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A plane about to land at JFK airport in New York City, where new Ebola screening began Sunday. (Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

This week’s transportation events range from a big House hearing on the Ebola outbreak to an Oklahoma event pairing conservative Sen. James M. Inhofe with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Full story

The Container’s Friday Q & A: Railway Supply Institute’s Tom Simpson, Part Two

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Workers at an oil rig in Watford City, N.D., part of the Bakken oil boom (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Here is part two of our conversation with Tom Simpson, the president of the Railway Supply Institute, about demand for tank cars and the new safety rules proposed by federal regulators.

Full story

October 10, 2014

A Look Back: Ebola Economics, Jihadists With European Passports & Biden On LaGuardia

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Travelers at Kennedy Airport in New York (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)

The risk of Ebola infection and the economic damage Ebola fears could wreak on aviation and tourism were big themes of our week.

As the Obama administration revised its plans to screen air passengers for signs of the deadly infection and as one Ebola-infected patient died in Dallas, some wondered about the efficacy of airport screening. Full story

The Container’s Friday Q & A: Railway Supply Institute’s Tom Simpson, Part One

 

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Domestic crude has been increasingly shipped by railroad tank cars (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Abundant domestic oil and big harvests mean boom times for U.S. railroads and lots of work for the companies that make rail cars.

Accidents such as last year’s derailment and fire in Lac Megantic, Quebec which killed 47 people have dramatized the tank car safety issue.

We spoke with Tom Simpson, the president of the Railway Supply Institute, which represents rail car manufacturers, about his industry.

Full story

October 9, 2014

Ebola Response: Economics As Well as Epidemiology

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Lufthansa crew members walk through Hong Kong’s airport in 2003 wearing masks to protect against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). (Photo: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images)

A couple of times during his Ebola briefing for reporters Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sounded as much like an economist as an epidemiologist.

Frieden noted that the 2002-2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak, which hit China and neighboring countries “cost the world more than $40 billion, but it wasn’t to control the outbreak. Those were costs from unnecessary and ineffective travel restrictions and trade changes that could have been avoided.”

Full story

October 8, 2014

Airports Await Details on Tighter Screening

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Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (Photo by Roger L. Wollenberg/Getty Images)

U.S. airport operators hope to get the details Wednesday of the Obama administration’s proposal for tighter screening of arriving passengers with Ebola symptoms.

Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will address an Airports Council International – North America conference this morning in Arlington, Va. Full story

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