A n oil-laden train not unlike those rolling down American tracks derailed  and exploded Saturday in a Canadian town, proving why pipelines are safer and  environmentalist opposition to a pipeline from Canada is misguided.

At least 13 people were reported dead and 37 missing in the charred Quebec  town of Lac-Megantic, 130 miles east of Montreal, after the accident created an  inferno of burning crude. Some may never be found, likely vaporized by the sheer  intensity of the blaze that burned for 36 hours.

Canada's oil boom, due largely to development of the oil sands in its western  province of Alberta, confronts an inadequate oil transport infrastructure.  Canada doesn't have nearly the pipeline network we do, and oil shipments by rail  have soared 28,000% in the last five years.

The Canadian Railway Association recently estimated that as many as 140,000  carloads of crude are expected to rattle over the nation's tracks this year, up  from just 500 in 2009.

Keystone Is The Key

The Canadian tragedy comes amid the controversy over the transport of  Canadian crude through the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to Gulf Coast  refineries. Without Keystone, designed to carry 830,000 barrels a day of oil,  shipments of Canadian crude by rail would rise an additional 42% by 2017,  according to RBC Capital Markets.

Railways suffer spills 2.7 times more often than pipelines, according to the  Washington-based Association of American Railroads. If that seems self-serving,  the State Department, citing a 2012 study from the free-market Manhattan  Institute, said trains spill 33 times more oil than pipelines.

The oil boom in the Bakken formation centered in North Dakota and the danger  of rail shipments should increase concern south of the border as well. A spike  in oil production from shale caused a 46% increase in petroleum shipments by  rail for Burlington Northern Santa Fe. For 2013, BNSF forecast a 40% increase in  crude shipments.

Read More At Investor's Business Daily: http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/070913-663038-canada-oil-train-disaster-shows-pipeline-need.htm#ixzz2YamBG7Z3 Follow us: @IBDinvestors on Twitter | InvestorsBusinessDaily on Facebook

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