Fossil fuel production on federal and Indian land is down over the past decade, in contrast to a big boost in production across the rest of the country. Why does it matter if the land that sits on top of fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas – is federal, Indian, or private? One word: money.
An analysis of waybills – freight receipts kept by railroad companies – shows that the vast majority of crude oil traveling on rails comes from the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota and moves on large trains that can be more than 100 cars long. This map shows a time-lapse view of where oil trains came from from 2012. For a full explanation of this data, see, “Train Waybills Unlock Crude Oil Mysteries.”
A dozen or more trains carrying crude oil from the Bakken region are moving across northern Montana every week, skirting the edge of Glacier National Park. More trains — far fewer in number – pass through populated regions farther south. Governor Steve Bullock released the route information this week, making Montana the latest state after Washington to buck railroads’ requests to keep the information out of public hands.
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