Friday derailment roundup

Derailment after derailment. They just keep happening.

Over the past several years, there have been numerous derailments in North America carrying crude from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale. These accidents have sparked increased calls from citizens, the rail industry and lawmakers for the federal government to increase safety regulations.

To keep up with these incidents and new safety regulations, PublicSource provides a roundup of stories every Friday.


Eight states provided funds to upgrade, close railroad crossings

The Federal Railroad Administration has awarded about $10 million in grants for nine projects to improve safety at railroad crossings, especially those routes frequented by crude oil and ethanol carriers.

Funded by the federal Safe Transportation of Energy Products by Rail Program, the $10 million has been distributed among: Arkansas, California, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, North Dakota, Washington state and Wisconsin.


U.S. crude oil inventories are at record highs

Data from the Energy Information Administration released Thursday showed U.S. crude oil inventories rose by 2.1 million barrels last week, a new record high.

Crude stockpile imports rose by 795,000 barrels per day, bringing crude oil supplies to 504.1 million barrels, about 78.5 million more barrels than last February.

Gasoline stocks also showed an increase with 3 million barrels, six times more than initial forecasts, for a record of 258.7 million barrels.


Scientific panel advises EPA with new draft of report

On Tuesday, the scientific panel reviewing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s report on hydraulic fracturing and drinking water released a second draft with changes in the report’s wording and tone as well as criticisms, according to State Impact.

The second draft by the Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory Panel expressed concern over the EPA’s lack of “various assessments, field studies, and other research.”

The panel advised the EPA to revise the ambiguous conclusions in the report on the impacts of water from oil and gas fracking, which it says has left the public with more questions than answers.


Environmental groups sue Oklahoma oil drilling companies

The Oklahoma Sierra Club, along with several other environmental groups, have filed lawsuits against three oil drilling companies whose activity they say has caused an increase in earthquakes in the state.

The environmental groups cite the use of hydraulic fracturing by Chesapeake Energy Corp., Devon Energy Corp. and the New Dominion as the preeminent cause of the state’s spike in earthquakes.

The lawsuit came just days after the Feb. 13 5.1 magnitude earthquake, which could be felt in seven other states.

Reach PublicSource intern Sabrina Bodon at sbodon@publicsource.org.