Another Day, Another Pipeline Spill
By Joshua Axelrod
After months of protests and passionate pleas for the government to recognize and analyze the threats Energy Transfer Partners' Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) could pose to fresh water resources and numerous others, news came this week that before even fully opening, the pipeline had already leaked.
A few states away, in Ohio, the same company's effort to build a natural gas pipeline has been put on hold after 18 leaks and a massive spill of drilling fluids into a pristine wetland convinced state and federal regulators to largely shut down the company's construction of the project. And even as this happens, we're facing similar threats as the Trump administration and TransCanada try to ram Keystone XL through America's heartland.
All of this feels like déjà vu. Back when Keystone 1 opened, for example, it experienced its first leak within months. A few years later, it experienced a major rupture in South Dakota, spilling at least 17,000 gallons of oil into a farmer's field. At the time, it was revealed that TransCanada, Keystone's owner and operator, had been warned about potential problems with the steel pipe it had used to build the line, as well as the welds holding the line together.
And DAPL isn't the only new oil pipeline rearing its ugly head and threatening our precious resources with the risk of an oil spill. Keystone XL has come back from the grave under President Trump and the State Department's rubber stamp cross-border permit. Enbridge is trying to expand its Alberta Clipper (Line 67) and Line 3 pipelines in Wisconsin and Minnesota. And the list goes on and on.
So why does this keep happening? The easy answer is: oil pipelines leak. They always have and they always will. They are complex projects that span thousands of miles and are held together by welds that commonly fail. They use materials sourced from manufacturers around the world that are almost always found to have anomalies. They carry substances that create conditions that can accelerate corrosion. They are impacted by external conditions like moisture and freezing and thawing and intense summer heat. All the technology in the world will not stop an oil pipeline from leaking. And what's worse, the best technology available today to detect a leak almost always fails to do so.
This week's leak is another example in a growing list that proves the concerns of Native Americans, farmers, ranchers and the public about the impacts these projects can have on water resources are real and pressing. For months, leaders from Standing Rock and elsewhere raised serious concerns about DAPL, its threat to water resources and the likelihood it would spill only to see those concerns not addressed by the current administration. Now, those same concerns are being ignored in the case of Keystone XL—which would cross one of the most important aquifers in the U.S.
America doesn't need new pipeline capacity to meet today's oil demand. And that underlying fact will only become more established as energy efficiency rises, vehicle electrification increases and renewable energy production grows.
Joshua Axelrod is a policy analyst for the Canada Project at Natural Resources Defense Council.
In less than one week, Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke will submit his final recommendations to President Trump on whether 27 national monuments around the country should be downsized, eliminated, transferred to state control or left alone.
But as Aaron Weiss, the media director of the conservation group Center for Western Priorities, pointed out: "Rather than spending his final week hearing from local communities who have worked tirelessly to protect their natural and cultural heritage as national monuments, Secretary Zinke is on vacation in the Mediterranean. His wife, Lola Zinke, tweeted a picture early this morning of herself and Secretary Zinke enjoying a sunrise on the Bosphorus Strait."
Energy Transfer Partners' controversial $4.3 billion Rover pipeline has more negative inspection reports than any other major interstate natural gas pipeline built in the last two years, according to a new Bloomberg analysis.
The 713-mile pipeline, which will carry fracked gas across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan and Canada, has been stalled from numerous environmental violations, including a 2 million gallon drilling fluid spill into an Ohio wetland in April.
'A Major Win for New Yorkers': Court of Appeals Upholds State's Denial of Water Quality Certification for Constitution Pipeline
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld New York State's denial of a water quality certification for the Constitution Pipeline Friday, a critical win for the Attorney General's office and the state's authority to take necessary action to protect its waters and natural resources. The appeals court noted that the state is entitled to "conduct its own review of the Constitution Project's likely effects on New York waterbodies and whether those effects would comply with the state's water quality standards."
New York must be able to do what's necessary to protect our environment—and we're glad that the court agreed.
By Anne Bolen
On Aug. 21, for the first time since 1918, a total solar eclipse will cross the U.S. from coast to coast. Along the path of totality, the moon will completely block out the sun, turning day to twilight for nearly three minutes. While a partial eclipse will be visible throughout the U.S., millions will be flocking to spots along the path of totality, which begins in Salem on Oregon's coast about 10:15 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time and exits the nation at Charleston, South Carolina, where maximum coverage will occur about 2:47 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Perhaps no other natural event will inspire so many people to go outdoors.
The Trump administration released an environmental review Thursday of Hilcorp Alaska's Arctic offshore drilling development. Hilcorp plans to build a 9-acre artificial island and 5.6-mile pipeline in the Beaufort Sea for its offshore drilling project. The Trump administration's draft environmental impact statement proposes to greenlight the dangerous drilling plan, which would be a first for federal waters in the Arctic.
The incident was detailed in several Facebook posts from Equinac, a Spanish marine wildlife conservation group.
The National Park Service (NPS) announced Wednesday that it has rescinded the 2011 "Water Bottle Ban" that allowed parks to prohibit the sale of disposable plastic water bottles. That same day, news emerged that the Trump administration removed a nine-slot Capital Bikeshare station at the White House that was requested and installed during the Obama years and used by staffers.
By Catherine Collentine
This week, a federal court ruled that the Obama administration over-penalized Exxon for dumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of a pollutant onto the streets of Mayflower and threw out a number of safety violations levied against Exxon on the basis that the company met its legal obligations to consider the risks associated with the pipeline.