PennFuture Blog

Our Perspectives on the Latest Issues

Oil Trains and the Threat to Our Communities and Environment

Oil trains are dangerous. On July 6, 2013 – exactly four years ago today - a runaway oil train brought tragedy and devastation to a community in in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec when it derailed and ignited 1.5 million gallons of crude oil, destroying buildings and ending the lives of 47 people. 

On this four-year commemoration of that tragic event, trains continue to travel through Lac-Mégantic and many other communities, serving as a reminder of the risk we face when our reliance on dirty energy trumps the safety of our communities. 

More than 700,000 Philadelphia residents (and more statewide) live in proximity to the rail routes that run crude oil near their yards, past their hospitals and childcare centers, and alongside their bike paths and highways. Trains carrying hazardous and highly flammable liquids even run alongside and cross our drinking water sources, even though the consequences of a spill or accident could impact the public health and safety of millions of people. In Pennsylvania, there is poor oversight of railroad bridges, a lack of transparency, and minimal access to rail maintenance records, along with insufficient penalties for regulatory violations.

We cannot wait for another disaster to hit before taking action. We need stronger safeguards to protect our communities and our environment. As the federal government continues to pursue a regulatory reform agenda to “alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens,” (1) we will continue to see threats to our health, safety, and natural resources in the pursuit of dirty energy production. One of the first things we can do to come together to defend our communities is to speak up with them. Jeremy Griffin is one Philadelphia resident who has decided to do just that, and share his story on oil trains and the risks that we face. 

Here at PennFuture, we fight the big polluters and hazards that impact every community’s access to clean water, clean air, and a safe environment. This is why we’re excited to release our new documentary film on oil trains by hosting a special happy hour on Thursday, July 13 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at our Philadelphia office. 

Check out this exclusive sneak peek of the oil trains project and join us at this special premiere to view the film, and to share your own story and concerns with members of our community. Please RSVP no later than 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, July 11.

(1) Presidential Executive Order on Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda, Exec. Order No. 13777, 82 Fed. Reg. 92 (May 15, 2017) Federal Register: The Daily Journal of the United States. Web. 6 July 2017.


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