Shameful: Keystone XL Proponent Using Deadly Lac-Megantic, Quebec Oil Train Tragedy To Promote Pipeline

Read time: 2 mins

Five people are confirmed dead and 40 people remain missing in the small hamlet of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, where a train with 73 carloads full of Bakken shale oil derailed explosively, incinerating 30 buildings on Saturday.

Local resident Henri-Paul Audette told the Huffington Post that his brother's apartment was next to the railroad tracks, very close to the spot where the train derailed.

“I haven't heard from him since the accident,” he said. “I had thought … that I would see him.”

This is by all accounts, a major tragedy, lives have been lost, loved ones remain missing and a small town has been nearly wiped off the map. There are still a lot of unknowns about this disaster, but that has not stopped supporters of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from using the horrific events in Lac-Megantic to promote the pipeline.

In a commentary piece published in the Globe and Mail on Sunday, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a “senior fellow” at the Exxon- and Koch-funded Manhattan Institute writes, 

“After Saturday’s tragedy in Lac-Mégantic, Que., it is time to speed up the approval of new pipeline construction in North America. Pipelines are the safest way of transporting oil and natural gas, and we need more of them, without delay.”

No kidding, Furchgott-Roth wants no more delay in the Keystone XL pipeline, since she has been advocating on behalf of the oil industry in one form or another for more than 25 years, with stints as an economist at the American Petroleum Institute and the oil industry-backed American Enterprise Institute. 

Working for oil company front groups is one thing, but using the tragedy still unfolding in Quebec to argue for more oil pipelines is a whole new level of low.

Image credit: Transportation Safety Board

Get DeSmog News and Alerts


Both forms of transporting oil and gas (trains AND pipelines) are not safe.  It's like asking people if they would prefer death by hanging or by firing squad.  The public should not have to live with two bad choices.  Also, although train incidents may be more frequent, pipeline incidents leak more oil and gas products.  So really, which is worse? 

How would you like to die?

Personally I'd rather hear a story about smashed solar panels all over the road.  (While wafer shards are SHARP, they have a distinct inability to leak or explode.)

Look up gas pipeline explosions to get some nice video of what can happen.  This train accident is by no means special other than it occured in an urban area.  (Isn't Line 9 going through an urban corridor?)

Run a story about deaths from the various industries and see how they stack up.

Oil and Gas is deadly…  (which reminds me, I need to update my H2S training)

How many people are killed every year by wind turbines (including transportation and installation)?

How many people are killed every year by solar installations (including transportation and installation)?

Diana Furchtgott-Roth at the Globe and Mail is not the only one attempting to push the Keystone XL. There have been many other journalists in separate articles.

Truth is that this accident has NOTHING to do with the Keystone XL.

In fact, virtually none of the Candian bitumen that the Keystone XL will carry are currently transported by rail. They probably never will, simply because of economics : Rail of bitumen from Alberta to tidewater is some $30/barrel, and at $30/barrel margin, most of the expansion projects for Alberta tar sand development are not profitable.

So, the only oil that gets transported by rail is “light sweet” crude, actually most of it from our very own increasing DOMESTIC production from the Bakken, because of the location flexibility that rail offers. The Keystone XL will not change the transport choices of “light sweet” crude, so it is despicable that so many journalists are using this disaster as an opportunity to push their pro-Keystone XL agenda.