Pat Powers mumbled something this morning about needing the Dakota Access pipeline to free up rail cars for agriculture products. But the decreased railroad volumes that I reported in March continue to sideline railroad workers:
Industry observers blame lower coal shipments as a major reason for the shipment decline. BNSF, the largest railroad in North Dakota, reported its national volumes were down 6 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to last year, and coal shipments alone were down 33 percent. Its first quarter profits dropped 25 percent.
…U.S. carload traffic dropped 16.1 percent in April compared to the same month in 2015, according to the Association of American Railroads. But excluding coal, carloads were down just 2.8 percent from April 2015.
…Meanwhile, exports of crude oil by rail out of the Williston Basin, which includes North Dakota, has dropped from more than 800,000 barrels per day in late 2014 to roughly 500,000 barrels per day in February, according to the estimates from the North Dakota Pipeline Authority… [John Hageman, “Railroads See Lower Volumes; BNSF Furloughs Hundreds in North Dakota, Union Says,” Ag Week, 2016.05.16].
Even grain shipments are down:
Canadian Pacific, the other major railroad in North Dakota, reported a 15 percent drop in its U.S. grain carloads in the first quarter of this year, contributing to an overall decline of 4 percent. BNSF’s volumes of agriculture products were up 1 percent in the first quarter of this year [Hageman, 2016.05.16].
Dang: instead of pretending that pipelines create jobs, maybe Marty Jackley and Mike Rounds should stop advocating for oil pipeline companies and encourage more rail traffic to protect American jobs.