Great Lakes Lawmakers Push for Dangerous Oil Pipelines, Despite Apparent Pipeline Safety Issues

Aerial shot of Alberta tar sands taken during NWF flyover

Several Congressional members, and Great Lakes State Legislators, are shamefully showing support for the Keystone XL pipeline before pipeline safety and environmental concerns raised by the EPA, some members of Congress and over 265,000 citizens have been adequately addressed.

Oil extraction from the Alberta tar sands is under high scrutiny because tar sands extraction in Canada destroys boreal forests and wetlands, causes high levels of greenhouse gas pollution, and is leaving behind immense lakes of toxic waste. The proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will import this toxic oil right through the heartland of America – threatening the Ogallala aquifer, wildlife and communities. In a recent report, Tar Sands Pipeline Safety Risks, it’s explained that transporting raw tar sands oil through pipelines is more corrosive, toxic, and unstable than conventional crude – yet current pipeline regulations do not take the corrosive and toxic nature of tar sands into account.

Line 6B Enbridge Energy
The pipeline that burst during the Enbridge tar sands oil spill in Michigan - July 2010

As discovered with the Enbridge MI oil spill, and the 12 tar sands spills that have happened along Keystone 1 in its first year of service, existing pipeline safety laws have failed and need to be updated to account for this highly corrosive and toxic tar sludge. Formal studies need to be conducted on the nature of this product and investigations into current oil spills need to be completed before any tar sands pipeline projects are considered.

Also, there’s extremely strong evidence showing that Keystone XL will actual increase gas prices for all of the Midwest, which our economies cannot afford. Recently exposed industry documents prove that the Keystone XL pipeline is going to be used to reduce Canadian oil supplies in America’s Midwest and increase prices by as much as 15 cents a gallon. In addition, this pipeline project will not to be energy security for the US, as many lawmakers are being led to believe, because the pipeline will be used to push oil to the Gulf for export to other counties – like China.

Oil in Montana's Yellowstone River (NWF's Alexis Bonogofsky)

It is not responsible for Great Lakes lawmakers to support and advocate for this project when we’ve experienced the devastating impacts of our inadequately regulated pipeline infrastructure through the Enbridge oil spill and now the Yellowstone River Exxon oil spill. Instead, all lawmakers should focus on the lessons learned and push for increased pipeline safety here in the Great Lakes and across the nation. We need to – first – properly regulate this industry instead of rushing pipeline expansion and undoubtedly harming wildlife, natural resources and communities.

Currently, US Congressional members are considering H.R. 1938, which would wrongfully expedite the approval processes for TransCanada’s Keystone XL. Please contact your members of congress and let them know this is not a project they should support. Instead, they should first support strengthening of pipeline safety regulations.

Also, Michigan, Ohio and Indiana state lawmakers are considering Resolutions which would show support for this project and future imports. Please contact your state Senator and Representative and ask them to not support these resolutions and to instead focus on our pipeline safety needs around the Great Lakes.

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