Thursday, September 24, 2015

Another pedantic letter to the editor

Last week this article was published in the Teaneck Suburbanite, with the following lines (emphasis added):
Trains carrying Bakken crude oil from North Dakota travel through Teaneck and other Bergen County towns regularly before arriving at a refinery in Philadelphia. Their numbers have increased exponentially in the past few years, and several derailments have occurred in Canada and across the United States.
Well, I felt the need to respond, and this week they printed my letter to the editor:
To the editor,
A recent article about the freight trains carrying Bakken crude oil running through Teaneck ("Resolution for trains to stop idling passes", Sept. 17, 2015) claimed that "[t]heir numbers have increased exponentially in the past few years..." This is not correct. "Exponentially" is not a more dramatic way of saying "rapidly" -- it means "at a rate proportional to the current value".
According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (, crude oil traveling by rail from the midwest (i.e. North Dakota) to the northeast (i.e. Teaneck) has increased roughly linearly since 2012, at a rate around 4.3 million barrels per year (see:, which corresponds to approximately 6,000 extra tanker cars per year.
While the (linear) rate of increasing oil traffic may still be very concerning to residents, like myself, who live within the "danger zone" of the tracks, we should, at the very least, be accurate in our descriptions of the situation.
Eli Lansey, Ph.D.
Here's the plot I link to:

No comments:

Post a Comment