The big story in the Northwest right now is the overturning of the oil train in Oregon’s beautiful Columbia Gorge, leading to a big explosion and fire. Katie Herzog at Grist tells us that these oil trains are weapons of mass destruction.
That’s true. Everything about oil production is a horrible for the environment and for the communities around the oil wells and refineries. But it’s worth noting how much of this production we have banished out of sight. These sorts of terrible events happen pretty much every day in Saudi Arabia, in Venezuela, and in Nigeria. Even in the United States, the refineries are located where most of us never have to see them, but where poor people of color have to live next to them. What the oil trains have done is bring the reality of oil production into our sight when they derail or catch fire. Hopefully, we build on this not just to push against oil trains passing through our cities and beautiful places but to demand safer labor, environmental, and transportation standards throughout the oil industry, no matter where the wells and refineries are located.