Virtual Pipelines: New Oil and the Pacific Northwest

Summer 2014 quarter (Session II)

Taught by

Dan Leahy
public administration

The Tar Sands of Alberta's Oil fields and the gasoline-like crude from North Dakota's Bakken region are headed this way in 100 car unit trains called “virtual pipelines.” Plans call for expanded rail receiving facilities at all five refineries in Washington state, as well as new oil train-to-marine transfer terminals at the Ports of Vancouver and Grays Harbor. These plans are the subject of major controversy in this state. Recent derailments and disastrous explosions have caught the public eye and mobilized labor and environmental communities. We will look at what this new oil is; how it's changing the dynamics of US oil dependency, as well as the nature of rail transportation in the NW. We'll visit ports and refineries, read primary documents, chart train traffic, talk to proponents, opponents and regulators and develop our own analysis of what should be done.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day

Advertised schedule: 10a-4p Mon/Wed/Fri


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Online Learning

No Required Online Learning: No access to web tools required. Any web tools provided are optional for students.

Registration Information

Credits: 8 (Summer)

Class standing: Freshmen–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 25


Course Reference Number

Second Session (8 credits): 40138

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