Weather Forecast


Minnesota Opinion: Minnesota must tackle railroad tanker issue

From Forum News Service

A recent editorial from Minnesota newspapers.

Minnesota must tackle railroad tanker issue

RED WING — Hundreds of railroad tanker cars carrying North Dakota crude oil travel through Red Wing, Lake City and beyond on the Minnesota side of the Mississippi River. Hundreds more travel through Bay City Hager City, Maiden Rock and points south on the Wisconsin side.

Trains moving cars just like these produced fiery derailments in North Dakota and Quebec. People have discovered in a horrible way that North Dakota crude is proving to be more flammable than other oil.

Minnesota lawmakers have a proposal on the table to increase an assessment to rail companies and generate $2.5 million more a year so firefighters, law enforcement and emergency medical staff are better trained and equipped for oil disasters. We like that the bill also has a couple of proactive components.

One, improve railroad crossings. This would go beyond the oil issue, of course, because safer railroad crossings benefit every train and every motorist attempting to cross the tracks.

Two, increase the number of state railroad inspectors from one to four or five. Before you gasp that Minnesota has only one, keep in mind that two federal inspectors cover Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Plus, railroad companies have many more.

That said, the influx of railcars carrying flammable crude, the tremendous pressure to pump oil and move it to market all make having a lone state inspector a danger itself. ...

Minnesota lawmakers realize they must do something. They are working in bipartisan fashion while wrestling with how to fund what’s needed.

The onus, however, can’t fall on individual states. Congress, too, is investigating railroad safety. We need an approach that is as comprehensive and far-reaching as the tracks crossing the country.

— Red Wing Republican Eagle