Only thing missing from detailed U.S. energy map? Crude by rail routes

McClatchy Washington BureauJuly 17, 2014 

As some railroads have continued to push for states to keep details about their crude oil shipments confidential, the U.S. Energy Information Administration has been developing a map that shows pipelines, refineries and rail and ship terminals used in crude oil transport.

Though no federal law protects the information railroads don’t want the states to disclose, some have signed confidentiality agreements and denied open records requests from media organizations and environmental groups.

The interactive, layered map shows just about every energy-related asset in the country.

Jonathan Cogan, a spokesman for the agency, said that no one had objected to the publicly available map’s level of detail.

It does not, however, show rail lines. Rail companies have insisted that the details of their crude oil operations are security sensitive and confidential for business reasons, but many states have found otherwise.

This week, New York became the latest state to release information about crude by rail shipments, joining California, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Florida, Virginia and others.

The U.S. Department of Transportation issued an emergency order in May requiring railroads to disclose shipments of 1 million gallons or more of Bakken crude oil to state emergency officials. Even North Dakota, the heart of the Bakken region, has disclosed the shipments.

In recent weeks, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania declined open records requests, joining states such as Ohio and West Virginia. Other states, including Texas, New Jersey, Missouri and Mississippi, are in the process of determining whether they will honor the requests.

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