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Oil shipping: rail versus pipeline?

Monday's derailment of a CSX train carrying oil in West Virginia has reignited the debate about the cheapest and safest way to move oil across the country.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, told CNBC's "Power Lunch" on Tuesday "if that oil had been carried by pipeline there would not have been this accident."

"The advantage of pipeline is that the container is stationary and the product moves through it and it's much safer than rail or truck, according to Department of Transportation statistics," she said. "We need to put human lives above all of this."

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Tyson Slocum is director of the Public Citizens Energy Program. He argued that pipelines are simply too costly and complex to build all over the country. Instead, the Department of Transportation should increase safety regulations over already-existing rail transportation systems.

"What we're seeing now is a proposal that would add an additional eighth of an inch of steel to reinforce existing and new rail cars that would help with limiting the amount of punctures," he said.

"We also see a proposal to improve the braking of these rail cars; that's going to help a lot. But we need to see additional safety measures."