How do pipelines like Line 3 compare to other ways of transporting oil in terms of safety and efficiency?
When it comes to the transportation of oil, pipelines have been found to be much safer transportation than trucks or rail, and with reduced pipeline capacity there is increasing use of rail, resulting in a higher risk of a spill or incident, such as in June of 2018, when approximately 230,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into floodwaters in northwestern Iowa as a result of a train derailment.
A study by the Manhattan Institute concluded that transportation of oil and gas by pipelines results in fewer spillage incidents and injuries than road and rail, and noted that “Americans are more likely to get struck by lightning than to be killed in a pipeline accident.”
Transportation by road was found to have the highest incident rate (at 19.95 per billion-ton miles per year), followed by rail at 2.08, natural gas pipelines at 0.89, and hazardous liquid pipelines at 0.58. The study concluded: “The evidence is clear: transporting oil and natural gas by pipelines is safe. Furthermore, pipeline transportation is safer than transportation by road, rail, or barge, as measured by incidents, injuries, and fatalities – even though more road and rail incidents go unreported.”
A study by the Fraser Institute also supported this finding, noting that rail is more than 4.5 times more likely to experience an incident in the transportation of oil.
Why are pipelines so much safer? Pipeline companies take active preventative measures ensuring that safety and environment concerns are constantly addressed throughout planning, design, construction, and operation. This includes ongoing integrity management programs that consist of evaluation, inspection, and maintenance of the lines. Today, pipelines are built better than ever and are getting even safer – using new inspection and prevention technologies. As a result, the number of significant pipeline incidents has dropped 32% since 2011. From 2008 through 2017, Enbridge has moved over 22 billion barrels of crude oil and liquids with a safe delivery record of 99.99966%.
At a time when issues related to climate and environment are of great importance, pipelines have a lower carbon footprint than rail transport of oil. A study by the University of Alberta concluded that pipelines create between 61 to 77 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than rail when transporting large capacities of crude oil over long distances.
Unfortunately, with reduced capacity on Line 3 and delays to the replacement project, oil transported by rail is now at an all-time high.
The oil Minnesotans depend on is going to be transported here with or without Line 3. A quick look at these facts shows again that it makes sense to move it in the safest way possible: in a state-of-the-art Line 3 replacement pipeline.