Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- It shouldn't be a surprise that more people are pointing out the importance of effective regulation in preventing disasters like the Lac-M├ęgantic explosion. But it may be somewhat unexpected to see that message from a CEO in the industry which stands to be regulated:
Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. CEO Hunter Harrison warned that a catastrophic derailment like the one that levelled the centre of Lac-M├ęgantic could happen again if regulators don’t impose tougher safety rules for transporting hazardous materials.

Mr. Harrison, an outspoken industry executive who has been running railroads in Canada and the United States for more than five decades, said he is frustrated with the “turmoil” and “bureaucracy” of multiple cross-border investigations, legal volleys and political finger-pointing after a fiery crash of crude tankers that killed 47 residents in the small Quebec town.

The chief executive officer said the large teams and agencies investigating the accident are taking so long that regulators are not adopting precautions needed to avoid further accidents with hazardous crude, gases and chemicals. “God forbid that something else should happen again while they investigate,” he said in in an interview with The Globe and Mail on Tuesday.

The deadly accident has given new urgency to a long-standing debate about the need for safer tanker cars, a reform that Mr. Hunter said has been stonewalled for decades by petroleum and chemical producers and other commodity shippers who own the vast majority of North America’s tankers. 
“The root of all this is the dollar sign,” he said. “We can fix all this stuff, it is fixable.”
- Meanwhile, Mike Hudema points out that Alberta has seen another oil-spill-filled summer. And Damian Carrington notes that the only forms of energy with any realistic chance of reaching the "too cheap to meter" standard promised of non-renewable power developments are in fact...wind and solar, thanks to their zero-cost inputs.

- Bill Tieleman writes about the Canadian Taxpayers Federation's selective interest in transparency - which of course doesn't apply to its own shadowy funding and administration.

- Bradley Brooks and Frank Bajak report that Brazil may be leading the way in developing alternatives to the Internet in its current form as a response to the revelation that the current infrastructure has been set up to facilitate surveillance by the U.S. and other governments.

- And finally, Kapil Khatter debunks a few myths about the (negligible) difference between brand-name and generic drugs.

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