By Justin Hollinrake, Ames
If you ask folks in the Quad Cities about the proposed Canadian Pacific-Kansas City Southern railroad merger, they’ll likely cite worries about disrupting downtown areas or holding up rush hour traffic. But the proposed merger, currently going through the regulatory process, matters for rural Iowa, too. And as the midterms fall into the rear-view mirror, we must ask ourselves how to best support these parts of our state.
The root cause of the merger is to move crude oil from Canada to Mexico, turning Iowa into a fossil fuel highway. If the merger is approved, the companies will triple the number of trains that pass between Sabula and Sewal with hundreds of new oil tankers. Spills are a major concern, given Canadian Pacific’s spotty-at-best safety record. But why should rural Iowa be complicit in a corporate scheme to burn fossil fuels further south?
By tripling train traffic across Iowa, we risk an increased number of derailments and accidents. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, Iowa is already among the worst states for train accidents involving adolescents. If nothing else, this merger will exacerbate these issues. Derailments are also a concern. In the last three years, Canadian Pacific has had multiple major derailments in Iowa. Thankfully, nobody has been hurt, but one forced evacuations of New Hampton, Iowa due to anhydrous ammonia leaks.
If this merger is approved remains to be seen. One thing is certain, however. It’s not in the best interests of rural Iowa.