A worker climbs off a crude oil train after setting the handbrake at the Eighty-Eight Oil LLC's transloading facility in Ft. Laramie, Wyoming July 15, 2014.
Rick Wilking/Reuters

Rohrabacher concocts new conspiracy theory on oil trains

Updated
As regular viewers of The Rachel Maddow Show know, we’ve taken a keen interest in incidents involving oil-train shipments and the sometimes severe public-safety risks that come with shipping oil by rail. It’s literally an explosive problem, as too many communities have experienced firsthand.
 
We’re obviously not the only ones who’ve noticed. Just this week, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration announced a new proposal “that would make it illegal for freight trains that are carrying crude oil to be left unattended on main or side tracks that are located near rail yards ‘unless specific securement requirements are followed.’”
 
A July 2013 oil-train derailment in Quebec killed 47 people, and U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said this week that the new proposed rules are intended to prevent similar tragedies in the future.
 
In theory, this shouldn’t be too heavy a political lift. Some Republicans reflexively oppose industry regulations, just as a matter of course, but in this case, as The Hill noted, a fair number of lawmakers “have pushed for greater regulation of freight trains that are carrying flammable materials like crude oil.” The political demand is based not just on the Quebec disaster, but also because of a related incident in North Dakota soon after.
 
But as Lindsay Abrams noted, at least one lawmaker is already pushing back against the new safeguards.
According to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., what the federal government actually did was pretend to crack down on rail safety, in order to sneak through climate change legislation. (Also, as he’s asserted in the past, climate change is a “total fraud” being perpetuated by the federal government in its quest “to create global government to control all our lives.”)
 
Rohrabacher lashed out at senior Transportation Department regulator Timothy Butters during a House Science Committee hearing on the Bakken crude, National Journal reports, suggesting that the agency’s efforts to implement safety standards might be “a facade to obtain what we clearly have as a goal of this administration, which is to reduce America’s use of fossil fuel, even though it is now being presented to us as something about safety.”
Right, the Obama administration and its elaborate ruses. Sure, it looks like the Department of Transportation is creating new safeguards in the wake of deadly disasters, but Dana Rohrabacher can see through these bureaucrats’ little game.
 
The California Republican added that all of this is being done – secretly, of course – in the name of a global warming “theory.”
 
Senior Transportation Department regulator Timothy Butters tried patiently to explain the policy to members of the House Science Committee.
“This material poses a risk. We are not trying to restrict the movement. We want to make sure that it moves safely. That is our role,” Butters told Rohrabacher.
 
“Energy and hazardous materials are critical to this nation’s economy. We strongly support that and we believe that. But our role is to ensure that this energy is moving safely through transportation. These crude-oil lines that carry these large volumes of flammable crude oil, which this material is, we need to ensure that it moves and it gets to its destination without incident,” he said.
Sure, Butters. That’s what they all say.
 
Joking aside, it’s worth noting that Rohrabacher once suggested “dinosaur flatulence” may have caused climate change 55 million years ago. Soon after, House Republicans decided to put him on the House Science Committee.
 

Climate Change, Dana Rohrabacher, Energy and Energy Policy

Rohrabacher concocts new conspiracy theory on oil trains

Updated