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Guest Opinion: Why is everyone so scared of the oil trains?

In response to Steven Friederich’s editorial on the derailment near the intersection of Devonshire Road and Alderbrook Road, Mr. Friederich asks where the supporters of oil by rail are. Here I am, Steven!

Even if I have to stand alone in support of this proposal, I would rather publicly stand alone in support than not have an opinion or even worse, have an opinion and not have the courage to voice it. I do support oil by rail. Is there the possibility of an accident that may damage property someday? Yes. Is the possibility of an accident a reason to not move forward and make the oil by rail proposal a reality? Nope. I don’t think so.

Planes fly overhead all day long; some we cannot even see with the naked eye. There is a possibility they could crash at any time, for any number of reasons, causing many fatalities and property damage — but we keep flying. There were 42,000 people killed in automobile crashes in last year. Each of us are at risk of having an accident everyday, the more miles you drive, the bigger the risk. Do we try to outlaw cars? Heck no. We buy new ones and encourage our youth to do the same. Most families have two or more in the driveway.

Did you know that children under 3 years of age are most at risk for choking on hot dogs? Yet we still feed them hot dogs and we still allow hot dogs to be sold to ANYONE in any grocery store, and good grief, they are not regulated. Something that can kill innocent children and it’s not regulated! What are we trying to do to our children! It is pretty much a foregone conclusion that using tobacco products either causes, or contributes heavily, to cancer in humans yet we continue to let them be sold and don’t punish tobacco users. Many traffic accidents are alcohol-related. But alcohol is still sold and not a word about outlawing it.

The point is, that while there are many things that could cause harm to the environment and injury or death to humans, we do not even contemplate their regulation or abolishment. So why is there so much polarization over oil by rail?

Frank Gordon, in his June 5 letter to the editor in The Vidette, says that there only 50 jobs created by the oil by rail proposal. I wonder, since Commissioner Gordon is so knowledgeable about the number of jobs, can he tell us specifically what those jobs are?

I found a great example of the number of jobs created by a similar scenario. The information I used here is from the Chicago area, but it should make my point and be relatively accurate for our area as well. So, let’s say that Commissioner Gordon is right and it is 50 jobs. According to a University of Illinois at Chicago study released in May of 2013, for each “direct” petroleum or coal products job, there are 4.7 “indirect” jobs in supplier industries and 2.6 “induced” jobs in local-serving industries which, added to the original direct job, equals 8.3 total number of jobs, or simply put, 50 direct jobs in the oil industry creates 365 indirect jobs. This is not what the opponents of the oil by rail proposal want people to know. They would like to keep the playing field on an emotional level and keep the facts to themselves.

If the FOGH, Sierra Club, The Audubon Society and every other environmental group wants to stop the project from coming to Grays Harbor, I challenge them to do so using the facts. There’s a slim chance they might even change my mind if an accurate, fact-based argument was presented to me without using scare tactics and sensationalism to embellish the story. All that being said, we still drive our gasoline-powered vehicles to and from work, thus fueling the need to explore, ship, refine and deliver gasoline to the end user.

Bruce Daniels is a graduate of Montesano High School and an active member of the Grays Harbor Republican Party. He lives in Aberdeen and works in Elma.