U.S. must move away from extractive fuels
The historic Parkside community is traversed daily by trains on a track that abuts the Nichols School, Central Park and the Tri-Main Center. The Buffalo Zoo, three elementary schools, St. Mary’s School for the Deaf and half a dozen churches are a stone’s throw away. Two colleges, Sisters Hospital and an increasingly vibrant Hertel Avenue are also close by. Furthermore, Parkside and Colvin Avenues, major routes for city dwellers and suburbanites alike, are crossed by old railroad bridges in questionable repair. Can you imagine ever having to quickly evacuate an area as dense as this?
It’s fairly tranquil here. Birdsong, church bells and children on the playground are music to my ears; less so, the plaintive sounds of nearby trains, now with up to 100 cars daily of highly volatile crude oil, on their way across the state. Rail cars newly equipped to carry it have exploded in horrendous accidents in both the United States and Canada, resulting in significant destruction and a number of deaths. As a result, the U.S. Department of Transportation has just announced new standards for tank car construction, brake systems and train speed limits. Unfortunately, it will be five more years before newly designed and retrofitted tank cars will have to meet the new standards. Meanwhile, the root cause of train derailments is, reportedly, track integrity and human error.
One sure way of both protecting public safety and saving the planet is to move away from extractive fuels as quickly as possible. We just need the public’s will to do so.