State senator says ethanol-train company withdraws proposal

State Sen. Sal DiDomenico reports that Global Oil has decided to cancel plans to run trains full of ethanol to a proposed "blending" facility in Revere. The decision came after the legislature approved a bill that would have basically prohibited the new facility.

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Gee, thanks NIMBYs...

Rather than fighting the fact that ethanol is required to be blended into gasoline, which 1) gums up your engine, 2) has a EROI of possibly less than one, and 3) would in and of itself eliminate the need to move it.

I'll be thinking of you any time anyone ponders about the many reasons why the costs of living continue to outpace inflation.

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Wonder what the alternatives are...

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So, we know that fuel demand in the metro area won't go down any time soon, and that ethanol is still going to be required as a portion of that fuel. So now that we have both stopped rail shipment, and likely prevented future facilities in the state.

What happens next? Fuel distribution facilities move out of state, and then we have more tank trucks traveling longer distances on our highways to service gas stations? This is a win?

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water transport

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They're currently bringing it in by barge. They can continue to do so. We've just spent millions on a new Chelsea Street bridge so they can bring in larger tankers. We have and are going to continue dredging the Chelsea Creek and Boston Harbor so that more and larger barge/boat traffic can be accommodated. Nobody is fighting that, and yes, it is in my backyard (and many others too). But that backyard is monitored by the U.S. Coast Guard and many other agencies.

The only reason this effort was initiated was to shave a few bucks off the company's shipping costs and increase their profit while putting onto the backs of all the communities along these routes the added risk this project represented. The fact that this company gave in at all indicates that the savings were not worth the bad press.

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whatevs

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That's right, sunshine. People fighting to prevent stupid decisions like bringing a ludicrously soft terrorism target through the most densely populated areas of the state on unprotected rails when it is already coming in through a different route anyways that is monitored by the Feds (Coast Guard) is really going to drive up your cost of living. That bit of cost savings the company was going to realize of course was going straight to the consumer and YOUR pocket, not their profit margin.

And yes, the people involved in this are also against the ethanol mandate for any number of reasons, but fighting it locally sure seems to have been a whole lot more effective than taking on the long term national battle.

Sorry about that stick up your ass. Hope you can have it removed soon.

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LOL

You seem to be the one with the stick up your ass. You also seem to have anxiety problems. You should see a doctor, they have pills for that.

I have yet to see any terrorist attacks on ethanol trains, despite the fact that they're completely ungaurded. So it seems your fears go beyond being unwarranted.

Also, while the increase in cost of living will be negligable, this combined with hundreds of other things all add up. You keep making demands and constructing roadblocks and those costs add up. But I'm sure you don't really care so long as you are personally pleased, princess.

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Unwarranted? Yes.

Link 1) VIA is passenger. Nothing to do with ethanol trains. Oh, I see what you're saying! We should ban trains, too, right! Because "someone might get hurt!" Let's just shut down all commerce, "just in case!"

Link 2) "Rules out terrorism" right in the headline. And '"Ethanol won't explode," he said, "but it will burn."'

Link 3) Al Qaeda? Oh, you mean that group which we continue to inflame through our foreign policy? You're right about something here. We shouldn't stop dicking in the Middle East, and we should instead shut down our rail systems to prevent retaliation.

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Hi there! I was on the

Hi there!

I was on the Safety Evaluation Committee for Ethanol Train Transit and am a City Councillor in Chelsea that represents an area that is cut in half by the tracks.

I asked point blank about terrorism concerns and was told 1) That was not in the purvue of the study (weird I know) and 2) They did not have reliable data on urban accidents or terrorism targeting of the trains in urban areas because its not all that common. Why would a terrorist blow up a train running through a corn field? When it came to answering safety questions the proponents had to look at numbers for other types of trains in urban areas.

As an analogy let me propose we put a nuclear silo next to your house. Now you should not worry because we have never had an attack on nuclear missile silos in the US. When we conduct the safety study I will instead use accidents and attacks involving water towers.

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If they throw me some cash

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fine by me.

I can count the number of nuclear mishaps on one hand. One from negligence in a collapsing world power, one from a retired design, and one from a 1 in a 1000 year natural disaster.

As always, I'm much more worried about getting hit by a MBTA bus coming through my living room wall. It's a much more realistic threat to be worried about, even if it is also rare.

Security at nuclear facilities is pretty tight. The main issue really is waste disposal, which I can totally understand.

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Not sure the anology applies

As an analogy let me propose we put a nuclear silo next to your house.

Sounds fine with me... so long as I'm not gauranteed to be bombarded by radiation. If so, then I'd request montly compensation. In your case, you're not gauranteed to be bombarded by flaming ethanol, so the comparisson doesn't apply.

I'd rent out the home a little cheaper, and use the compensation to make up for the difference in rent.

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Sorry, no compensation! That

Sorry, no compensation! That is not part of the package, I do not recall there being compensation in any of the proposals.

I doubt that Global Oil could have afforded to have compensated every person along the train site that would have had a negative affect on their land values. You do realize that the train runs through dozens of communities. You do also realize that even if you put a half mile radius around the trains for areas affected by the train you end up with most of Chelsea, Revere and Everett. If you make it a mile you have pretty much all three cities engulfed.

There is no guarantee that the train would explode but there is a chance. If it did , at a mile long, it could pretty much wipe out my entire city. Then where would you put all of your salt, oil, regional food transport stations, jet fuel and other things you do not want in your own back yard?

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But... it doesn't apply...

If I'm not getting bombarded by radiation, then yes, it is a valid anology. And in that case, I don't care, and I let it be.

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Why do we persist in the belief that

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that the less expert people are about issues (like the relative hazards of shipping chemicals by freight train versus tractor-trailer), the more right they are apt to be - NOT!!!!!!!

And the worst part is that the opposition doesn't have to even prove their arguments beyond a reasonable doubt. Put enough fear-mongering into the politicans, and you get idiotic laws like this one. Sure, let's stifle efficement movement of goods and economic developement on the say of a bunch of NIMBYs.

This decision is pathetic on so many levels. And we'll start paying the price next winter when barge shipments are delayed owing to storm conditions on the Atlantic.

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So anon (not verified),

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you work for the fire department? or the rail company?

The relative hazard of shipping by rail is pretty low compared to truck. Shipping the volume of ethanol we're talking about by truck was never on the table because it's too damned expensive.

The risk of shipping this volume of ethanol by rail in a cornfield versus a densely settled urban environment potentially past a nuclear facility, other hazardous materials handling facilities (many of which equally explosive), schools, hospitals, under highways, past a future FBI regional office, through at-grade crossings, the largest produce distribution point in the region along lines shared with commuter rails, is slightly larger. Context matters. If you would like to make the argument that the 100+ communities along the possible routes should assume the liability and risk of this endeavor so that one company can fatten their bottom line, go ahead.

Prove beyond a reasonable doubt? Precautionary principle is a foreign concept, eh? The fire chiefs in the region asked for a formal contingency planning study to be performed, but for some reason the proponent didn't want to do that.

But apparently you are an expert on these issues. The number of exclamation points used directly correspond to that title.

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clue phone...

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...it's for Swirly. I've been having an argument with people here that shipping this shit by rail in the middle of the city IS A BAD FUCKING IDEA. I'm not lecturing anyone about how safe it is, I'm saying that the resulting risk of the unlikely hazard of an accident is way too much for the communities in Massachusetts (or anywhere) to bear. The track record of rail is comparatively better than shipping by truck, but then again the volume of both ethanol and petroleum products being shipped by rail has skyrocketed in the last few years so... past performance is no indicator of future success - or the more shots on goal, the better your chances.

Lac-Mégantic is exactly an example of this. And it helps make the argument that so many people in the Boston area have been making. This is not NIMBY this is Not In Anyone's BackFucking Yard.

But go ahead and tell me how your snide 'tude was warranted.

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Grade crossings

If the shipments were to be on railroad lines that are entirely separated from surface road traffic, I don't think people would freak out about them. But a shipment via the Fitchburg Line involves busy grade crossings in Somerville, Cambridge, Belmont, and Waltham, as well as the sparsely settled suburbs west of 128. Using the Framingham Line instead means also using the Grand Junction, with its six street crossings in Cambridge. The Lowell Line is not as bad as the other choices, but still has two problematic grade crossings in West Medford. All three routes converge in Chelsea which itself has numerous street crossings.

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Anon, Call it what you may,

Anon,

Call it what you may, NIMBY seems to be your choice but your argument is the same one we in Chelsea have heard every time someone wants to put something dangerous in our city.

We have Eastern Minerals salt pile which supplies most of New England with salt for roads. It is currently not following salt storage standards but when we complain about it we are told it would cost too much to cover. We are then told that the region needs the salt so tough beans.

Our area also has all sorts of storage sites for jet fuel and oil tanks.

Everett has the LNG terminals.

When we fought against the diesel power plant across the street from an elementary school we were called NIMBYs.

When we fought against an asphalt plant we were called NIMBYs.

When we complain about oil spills in the creek, when a waste transfer station moved in, when there was a concern about the number of trucks in the city...

We are talking about an area that is less than a few square miles. Why does our area need more of these uses? Why not near other peoples homes? I know people like you tend to say "then why did you move there" and my answer is many of us are from here. We were here before these uses and finally have mustered a voice to say no. I realize it makes your life inconvenient that you have to find a new dumping ground but that is not my problem. WHEN the rest of the region takes on even one of the things we host we will stop making a fuss when this happens again in the future.

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Anon, Call it what you may,

Anon,

Call it what you may, NIMBY seems to be your choice but your argument is the same one we in Chelsea have heard every time someone wants to put something dangerous in our city.

We have Eastern Minerals salt pile which supplies most of New England with salt for roads. It is currently not following salt storage standards but when we complain about it we are told it would cost too much to cover. We are then told that the region needs the salt so tough beans.

Our area also has all sorts of storage sites for jet fuel and oil tanks.

Everett has the LNG terminals.

When we fought against the diesel power plant across the street from an elementary school we were called NIMBYs.

When we fought against an asphalt plant we were called NIMBYs.

When we complain about oil spills in the creek, when a waste transfer station moved in, when there was a concern about the number of trucks in the city...

We are talking about an area that is less than a few square miles. Why does our area need more of these uses? Why not near other peoples homes? I know people like you tend to say "then why did you move there" and my answer is many of us are from here. We were here before these uses and finally have mustered a voice to say no. I realize it makes your life inconvenient that you have to find a new dumping ground but that is not my problem. WHEN the rest of the region takes on even one of the things we host we will stop making a fuss when this happens again in the future.

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herp derp

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you should have derped before you herped.

IMAGE(https://i.chzbgr.com/maxW500/4928787200/h1464445E/)

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Server problems?

Adam, check your server configuration; a SomethingAwful forum post from 2010 somehow ended up here. Switch the cables before we're inundated with Patrick Duffy animated gifs and Captain Picard facepalms.

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Nothing is being stopped

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Only poor land use choices in areas that have already done their part for taking on noxious and/or dangerous facilities, that's all.

Why can't we put it in Weston? Oh, right - RICH PEOPLE

Too bad poor people are learning to fight back

In the meantime, why was shipping it on the ocean in far more secure transports ever a problem? One shouldn't tout the benefits of your favorite plan/call names/piss whine and moan when 1) it doesn't affect you and 2)there are far more appropriate alternatives.

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Just to point out a fact

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If one of those LNG tankers was ever to rupture or explode in the inner harbor, it make 8 square miles into a very bad day. Which is not surprising seeing as the amount of LNG those things carry is crazy.

Still, it's safe. We're even more safe with them, effectively shutting down the harbor and providing escort, since 9/11.

Until were all running on energy cells and renewable, this sort of transportation is a fact of life. We really can't have our cake and eat it too; unless we all get on board with heavy subsidization of green energy.

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But,

If we stopped subsidizing fossil fuels, we may not need "heavy subsidization of green energy." Green fuel isn't as weak as we think, it's just that we've already poured so much subsidization into our fossil fuel dependence.

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Urb

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Urb,

I usually agree with you on most of this stuff. However I *LIVE* in Chelsea, and I'm against this. Sorry, visions of what happened at Santilli Circle a few years ago crosses my mind.

All it takes is one accident and an ignition source, and *poof* most of Chelsea, Revere, and Eastie are toast. Remember its not just the tankers, but keep in mind if that fire spreads, its going to spread to all those tankers along Eastern Ave, 1A, Chelsea Street, etc etc.. its going to be one big fireball.

yeah it sounds far fetched, but then again, look at what happened in Arkansas. People built HOMES over a oil pipeline, and I'm sure the oil companies were like "Oh you'll be safe". Look at them now, their homes are destroyed. Sorry i don't want to go through that myself.

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Great point

Mentioning proximity of the large tanks. But it's worth noting that it's nearly impossible for the ethanol to flow close enough to those tanks for anything to happen to them, unless we're talking about some serious freak accident type stuff. The Everett tanks are within reasonable distance, but each tank is surrounded by a berm of earth to contain any ruptures. This conveniently works to also repell the flow of massive amounts of burning ethanol, should such a significant rupture of train tankers occur somehow. Especially with the reduced speed for both the curve in the track and the grade crossings nearby.

The other two of the three tank farms are not near the rails the ethanol would be transported on. In fact, the Eastern Ave and Chelsea St farms are at more risk of a barge rupturing and going ablaze than any derailment.

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squirrel!

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It would take a bit of a freak accident to have an ethanol rail car end up hurtling into one of the large storage tanks (maybe Godzilla flings it?) but the far more likely scenario is a derailment or collision at an at-grade crossing that results in a fire in the middle of a densely populated urban area. There's a reason that firefighters in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville and other locales (not Revere, they got their payout), as well as the PFFM were all against this proposal. Unlike in a midwest cornfield where these things usually occur, it's a little harder to let them burn out next to a block of wooden triple deckers. And of course the water you use on the house is not what you would use on the ethanol itself. For the ethanol you need a special foam that is not available in the state in the necessary quantities.

And yes Virgina, ethanol does explode:
IMAGE(http://techyum.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Ohio-Train-Explosion.jpg)

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Sure

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flammable stuff is flammable.

Thats why we take precautions and measures to make sure accidents are not the norm. There's a point where things get out of control and fears are unjust.

Seems to me, with these fuel delivery, that's where we are at. It's NIBYISM no, instead of "how to we make this as safe as possible". Especially, since the city and citizens do rely n these fuel shipments and distributions for energy needs.

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Trot out the Chernobyl kids too

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Because if you aren't parading a victim around to prove your point, then you aren't trying hard enough to win that you're willing to through reason and statistics away and focus on pure emotional irrationality.

Your argument is akin to saying we shouldn't invest in nuclear power because Chernobyl. Except nuclear power is the least deadly energy source (even hydro has killed more from dam failures and workers fall from wind turbines too often per kWh, http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2012/06/10/... ).

The Chelsea rep here has a point that there are other places where this kind of outlet could be established to spread the burden. That's a sane and useful argument. Yours is not.

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We shouldn't invest in nuclear power

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Because we have no safe place to put the waste.

Because accidents like Fukishima could happen anywhere there is resistance to putting in proper safety strategies because utilities don't want to pay the true cost of safety and install dry cask structures to store waste and more resistant backup generators in case the entire grid fails.

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Wrong debate

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This is not a debate on whether we should invest in nuclear energy. It is an example of how pointing to one failure of the method does not demonstrate the reliability of the method as a whole.

Complaints about safety measures not being enacted, etc. are not industry/method dependent and are a problem with regulation/government/oversight, not with the method itself.

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Risk of Bhopal was astronomically tiny, too

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Except they didn't factor organizational safety failure into the risk assessments.

Oops.

They didn't incorporate a sensitivity variable for cutting maintenance to two and then one shift. They didn't incorporate the inevitable cost-cutting measures that reduced the inspections dramatically, etc.

Yeah, lets see your SRA NE membership before you spout off about statistics, dude. You clearly don't know shit about risk assessment and how it uses statistics - or how major utilities made sure that the waste problem hazards or terrorism vulnerable design risks weren't included in nuke relicensing.

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Relevance?

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None of which changes my point. All of those factors can be said of any particular energy type. Using a specific (and recent/fresh) example of a problem in transporting pressurized crude oil does not indicate its particular safety risk. Same with Bhopal...do you think it indicates the safety risk of the entire stored chemical industry?

My point is to use Bhopal to shut down the entire industrial chemical industry is absurd. So is pointing to Quebec and saying "See, we shouldn't ship oil by trains. Chelsea was right!".

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Better

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Find a new source of energy than the sun. I heard in a few billion years, it's going to give us a very, very bad day.

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Lac Megantic =/= Boston, sorry... try again...

The train that would be coming to Boston isn't going to be tieing down anywhere near Boston. For one, there's nowhere near here to even store the entire proposed 70-car train in the area, let alone is there a siding up a long, elevated grade as was the case there. The MMA left their damn train unlocked and idling miles atop a 1% grade... and they're STILL doing it -- there is currently an unlocked, idling westbound (no fuel, thankfully) train sitting outside Lac Megantic because it can't get by.

That said, the facts are still coming out, and who knows what else to fault here. So how about not fearmongering for two seconds?

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Be it noted...

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...that I didn't bring up the Mégantic derailment. They still haven't identified who has died in that event, let alone all the causes (apparently there was a fire on the train as it was rolling by itself?). And obviously pressurized crude is not ethanol (you can use water on a crude fire, for example). So the direct comparison to shipping millions of gallons of pure ethanol through metro Boston a few times a week is not valid.

Where there is a similarity is in the fact that rail transport of petroleum products and related materials like ethanol (thanks Feds!) has shot up dramatically in the last 5 - 10 years. These materials are now being brought into areas that haven't seen a whole lot of industrial activity for the past 50 years or so. The hollowing out of our industrial zones and infrastructure for waterfront condos, for bike & walking trails, for malls and developments (like say... a casino?) result in this conflict of restarting industrial use in urban areas that are bulking back up again with population densities that we haven't seen since the second world war (+/-).

The economy does not run on dunks, it runs on oil. That's not changing in a big way anytime soon, so we're going to have to address how we manage the risks (and who bears the burden of these risks). There is NO NEED for ethanol to be injected into this scenario. It's a fucking party hat on a duck, not needed.

I like rail transport and want to see more of it being used (especially if it means less trucks on our highways). But if you trust these companies to police themselves and make sure that THEY THEMSELVES bear the liability for their decisions and business models, then you are at best naive, at worse a shill. (or just one of those Internet contrarians who likes to argue.)

By the by, the crude in Quebec was being shipped to St. John's to an Irving Oil terminal (they are also on Chelsea Creek and would have been involved with the Global Partners activties). The owners of the crude have not been named.
Irving's statement:

Statement on Lac-Mégantic Tragedy
On Saturday, Irving Oil learned of the rail car derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. Our concern is for the tragic loss of life and the impact on the people of Lac-Mégantic. The owners of the crude oil have confirmed to us that it was being transported by Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) to be delivered to our refinery in Saint John. We immediately offered emergency response assistance to the authorities. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been affected by this tragedy.

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DOT-111

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anudder ting:

The event in Mégantic involved DOT-111 tanker cars which have been criticized by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and the US National Transportation Safety Board. Their design has been the primary cause for the release of a hazardous material in a number of events. From the MassDOT report:

The main concern with the cars is that upon impact, the tanks can puncture and valves can break open.

These are the same cars being used for the previously proposed ethanol shipments. There was a request to the project proponents to upgrade the cars they would use and they flatly stated that it wasn't their problem - talk to the carrier.

By the by, representatives of Global Partners and others were in the Gov's waiting room today and chances are they weren't there to exchange zucchini square recipes. So this project ain't dead by a long shot. Good chance the Gov recognizes which side of the bread his toast is buttered and you get your most fervent wish -- highly explosive ethanol rolling through metro Boston.

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In all honesty...

and you get your most fervent wish -- highly explosive ethanol rolling through metro Boston.

In all honesty, my wish is that this would happen elsewhere. Actually, I wish ethanol blending was not required and that fossil fuels weren't subsidized, but alas... But just because my desire that this business be conducted elsewhere isn't fulfilled, doesn't mean I'm going to stand in it's way.

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Wait until hydrogen is king,

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Wait until hydrogen is king, and you see the infrastructure involved with that, dont need no stinking ethanol for that.

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MBTA may have lost $350k/year in this

Assuming the MBTA charges Pan Am/Pan Am Southern/Norfolk Southern the same rate as CSX, this may have cost the MBTA roughly $350k/year which would have been gained in freight rights fees. This could be roughly enough to run an additional 32 hours of bus service a day, and that's before any farebox recovery of operating expenses.

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To expand upon this

That could potentially be 64 additional 111 route buses (32 inbound and 32 outbound, or otherwise) every day of the week for 365 days of the year. And again, that's running empty. When you factor in farebox recovery, you'd be able to sustain more buses.

This is assuming that driver pay is $20/hour and gas/incurred maintenance requirements are $10 for each hour of bus operation, with the average 111 route taking 30 mins to complete a run. I'm also assuming my figure is correct on yearly income to the MBTA. I had gone ahead and taken it that a 70 car train would operate twice a week (and return twice a week, obviously) and Pan Am owes the MBTA $0.45 per car mile traveled on MBTA trackage. The Fitchburg Line is approximately 50 miles long, plus a couple miles along the Newburyport/Rockport Line.

For some more perspective, the 83 bus route (which perhaps serves the most population within potentially "harmed" neighborhoods) could see an additional 96 runs a day. Split it into 48 inbounds and 48 outbounds. Every day of the year. There's currently 42 inbounds (and I'm going to be lazy and assume 42 outbounds as well). That more than doubles weekday bus service for those most "affected." And does well more than that for Saturdays and Sundays.

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No worries!

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They're selling the naming rights of Harvard Station to Yale for three times that amount!

(You seem knowledgeable on this, are the freight rights fees collected hardwired for use on the Commonwealth's rail system? Like Turnpike tolls have to be spent on the Pike. I think these fees go back to the rail system not necessarily buses. All subject to legislative appropriations process, of course...)

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Heh!

They're selling the naming rights of Harvard Station to Yale for three times that amount!

I would be quite amused by this. :)

As for where collected rights fees go, that's a good question. I haven't the slightest clue. I was just figuring it goes into one mass general fund for the T. It may very well be required to go into maintenance of the tracks. But then maybe you could just take $350k/year going towards track maintenance from the general fund and redirect it elsewhere.

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WAIT WAIT WAIT so if an area

WAIT WAIT WAIT so if an area is impacted then that area gets all the money redirected back into its infrastructure? SWEET!!! That is great to here. Don't mind me, I am using your new protocol to contact several state and federal agencies requesting money to be poured into Chelsea, Everett and Revere. We supply so much for the region, if we got even ten percent of the income produced by these locations then we would be flowing in cash and infrastructure.

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