Build a railroad, not a natural gas pipeline

Letter to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Eleven hundred railcars filled with 170,000 pounds of liquefied natural gas hauls the equivalent amount of gasified natural gas as the gas pipeline. That's 10 trains with 110 railcars in each. It's one hour of rail time, leaving 23 hours of rail time to haul other things.

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Rail is economical, 400 miles per gallon per ton of cargo. Trains can run on the natural gas they are carrying. Nine dollars of fuel carries a ton (2,000 pounds) of liquefied natural gas anywhere in North America. Rail is the most efficient (fuel-wise) method of transportation ever invented, period.

It takes only 10 percent of the amount of steel to build a mile of rail compared to the gas pipeline. Most of the railroad is already built and ready to use.

The railroad can be in operation within two years of startup. Liquefied natural gas has been safely hauled by rail for 50 years. Once built, the railroad option will satisfy all Alaskans needs for inexpensive heating energy.

The proposed gas pipeline is to be 50 inches in diameter at 2,500 to 3,500 pounds per square inch. No other gas pipeline of this diameter, pressure and length has ever been built. An accidental puncture could be explosive. Think a party balloon popping.

Railroads are a proven technology and work every time. Tell your lawmaker. Build a railroad, not a pipeline.

A railroad will allow export of many other Alaska resources - coal, zinc, timber, whatever - and reduce shipping costs to Alaska. Depending on the route, the railroad can be built for as little as $5 billion to $7 billion and can even spawn other enterprises such as inter-modal freight from North Pacific to North Atlantic countries. Once built, the gas on the North Slope will no longer be stranded, thus we don't have to compromise any taxes to sell it.

Dan Apted


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