Decision needed on Keystone pipeline

While President Barack Obama touted the effectiveness of his “all of the above” energy policy Tuesday evening, he skirted around talking about a major energy issue that is of importance to any town in the land with a railroad running through it.

Obama has stood solidly against the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring oil from the Canadian tar sands to refineries along the Gulf Coast, citing environmental concerns mainly.

But recent, and spectacular, and dangerous rail accidents, including one in Lac Megantec, Canada, that saw the loss of 47 lives and the destruction of the downtown area of a small city last summer, calls to mind the efficacy of transporting petroleum in large amounts aboard tanker trains.

Oil companies are looking at alternatives to transporting via the pipeline from the vast oil fields of the Bakken shale of the Dakotas.

It’s not that shipping oil by rail will cease with the pipeline, but environmentalists who say pipelines are an environmental disaster need to look at the greater frequency of spills from railroads, and at the issue that pipelines that are yet built may be turned away from populated areas. The nation’s rail system, which is not always in top shape, runs through the heart of many cities, through the back yards of many rural villages through farmlands and across the same kinds of pristine land the environmentalists contend the Keystone XL would destroy.

It’s an issue that the president, and his big executive power pen he vowed to be using in 2014, needs to come to a decision about.

The petroleum is needed here and abroad. Companies are gathering the oil and gas, which will need to be transported.

It would seem that some combination, properly regulated, of rail and pipe, would be an “all of the above” solution that keeps Americans employed and the energy flowing.