wombat_socho (wombat_socho) wrote,

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A letter to the City Council

Railroad puts in ethanol transloading facility in industrial district, ignorant neighbors and politicians get butthurt. Yr. Humble Correspondent is amused, and fires off a missive to the Mayor and City Council.

I am dumbfounded that the city is wasting money on this lawsuit. It is the worst sort of "feel good" government action: lacking in any constructive end while resorting to the most expensive of means. Are you and the Mayor aware that the neighborhood where the transloading facility is located also includes an asphalt company, a coal-burning power plant (with associated large outdoor piles of coal) and other industrial facilities? Why single out the NS ethanol facility for legal harassment? I seem to recall that NS has gone so far as to buy suitable firefighting equipment for the city in the unlikely circumstance of an accident; this does not sound like the act of an uncaring corporate citizen to me.

As for the people complaining about this facility being in their neighborhood, I have no sympathy for them. If they were dumb enough to pay premium prices for their condos without checking out what else was in the neighborhood, tough. They remind me of people who buy inexpensive houses near airports and then whine continually about the noise.

Finally, in the same city publication announcing the lawsuit, I was bemused to read that Alexandria is taking steps to remodel itself as an "eco-city". Strange that you should begin your efforts by trying to sue a facility for handling renewable fuel out of business. On the other hand, given the unrealistic expectations and loose grip on science that characterize the environmental movement, maybe it's not so strange.

Just to add to the perversity, if you use the DOE Alternative Fuels Finder, plug in my ZIP code (22304), and pick electric, E85 and CNG -the three most widely available vehicle fuel alternatives- the overwhelming majority of the stations are Federal and state motorpools, and most of the rest are restricted to military personnel and their dependents. The closest publicly available E85 to me is in Georgetown, eight miles north of here; there's nothing in Alexandria. Way to go on the renewable/alternative fuels, guys.

UPDATE: Got a couple of e-mails back from councilmen who make the point that NS should abide by the same rules all the other businesses in town do. They miss the point that as a railroad (and therefore an interstate carrier) NS doesn't have to - they're regulated by the Feds, precisely to avoid this penny-ante, town-by-town death of a thousand cuts by regulation. Besides, we're talking ethanol here, Everclear by the tank car load. Worst thing that happens if there's an accident is that a bunch of 100% PGA goes up in flames very quickly - and the chances of this stuff spreading 600 yards to an elementary school is lower than the chance of a truckload of chlorine or some other industrial gas going splat in the neighborhood. And that stuff goes by on the Beltway all the time, to say nothing of Van Dorn Street and Eisenhower Avenue. I guess that's normal and not upsetting to the local swells, though.
Tags: culture & politics, laffo, tech stuff
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