The crude oil train that derailed and burst into flames last week near tiny Heimdal, North Dakota (population: 27), was the latest explosion in a disturbing series across North America. Over at Sightline, Eric de Place and Keiko Budech now count at least 10 oil train accidents over just the past two years—dating back to the July 2013 crash in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. Others during that span have occurred in the likes of Illinois, West Virginia, and Alabama.
There's no mystery why these incidents are occurring now: the practice of moving crude oil by rail in North America is climbing at a startling rate. In a separate Sightline post, de Place and Deric Gruen chart the trend via new material from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This one just about says it all—oil train shipments either to, from, or within the U.S. have gone from 20 million barrels in 2010 to 373 million in 2014, largely on the back of new production from the Bakken region: