It is reported that the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) is planning to lay another line of tracks through Valley County to enhance their oil transportation capabilities. In my opinion, there is a better option than having another set of tracks.
I recognize that the BNSF plays a major role in Valley County transporting grain, oil and freight. Most of us tolerate the noise and smell of the trains and accept the resulting disruption of agricultural operations, impact on local flooding, fragmentation of wildlife habitat, etc. However, the number of reports (complaints) regarding BNSF has increased during the past few years.
Most of these are related to traffic disruptions in Frazer, Nashua, Glasgow and Tampico. Injuries and death resulting from traffic (and pedestrian) accidents are less common, but more serious. It is self-evident that the current impacts are miniscule compared to the future impacts of doubling the number of trains and the potential of an explosion following the collision or derailment of oil tanker cars.
Rather than constructing new tracks and doubling the number of trains, I believe that the Keystone XL pipeline is a better solution for transporting oil. The pipeline would eliminate the traffic and noise disruptions, while reducing the threat of a potential explosion in one of our communities.
Although the Valley County Treasurer's Office reports that BNSF paid $1,259,635 in property taxes in 2013, the largest taxpayer in Valley County, Northern Border Pipeline Company, paid $4,519,860. In comparison, the Keystone XL pipeline is projected to annually pay Valley County about $12 million in taxes.
The solution is obvious. Individuals with connections to the White House should be encouraging the administration to “OK” the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Approval of the pipeline would hopefully cause the BNSF to reevaluate their plans.
John Lacey lives in Glasgow.