Quantcast
Energy
In March 2013, ExxonMobil's Pegasus Pipeline sprung a leak, spilling 210,000 gallons of tar sands crude into a neighborhood of Mayflower, Arkansas.

Yet Another Reminder that Dirty Oil Pipelines Are Never Safe

By Catherine Collentine

In March of 2013, ExxonMobil's Pegasus Pipeline sprung a leak, spilling an estimated 210,000 gallons of toxic tar sands crude into a residential neighborhood of Mayflower, Arkansas.

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.


In the court's decision, Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod noted, "The unfortunate fact of the matter is that, despite adherence to safety guidelines and regulations, oil spills still do occur."

Just think about that for a minute. The court ruled that even if a pipeline spill devastates a community, if the company can prove they followed safety guidelines, they shouldn't be held accountable for the damage they caused. That oil spills that threaten communities across the country are to be expected—just the "unfortunate" price we all have to pay for oil companies to transport their dirty product to market.

We've long argued that it's never a question of if a pipeline will spill, but when, and how much damage it will cause when it does. A recent report from Greenpeace bears this out, analyzing the track records of the companies behind major proposed tar sands pipeline projects including Keystone XL and the Line 3 pipeline expansion. These three companies, TransCanada, Kinder Morgan, Enbridge, and their subsidiaries, have had 373 spills from their pipelines in the U.S. since 2010. That's an average of one significant incident and a total of about 570 barrels of oil spilled per year for every 1,000 miles of pipe. Based on these rates, Keystone XL could expect 59 significant spills over its 50-year lifetime and the Line 3 expansion could expect about 51.

As we await decisions from local regulators on the fates of the Keystone XL and Line 3 pipelines, it is clear that dirty oil pipelines are not in the interest of the communities they would run through and should be rejected.

Catherine Collentine is a tar sands campaign representative for the Sierra Club.

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
GMO

In Blow to Monsanto, Arkansas Ban on Controversial Herbicide to Remain

Monsanto lost its bid to overturn Arkansas' ban on dicamba, a controversial weedkiller linked to extensive damage to famers' crops in the state as well as several other states.

The agribusiness giant makes a version of the herbicide called XtendiMax that's paired with its seeds that are genetically engineered to resist the product. DuPont Co. and BASF SE also sell their own dicamba-based formulations.

Keep reading... Show less
Thrillist / YouTube

Love Vegan Food Videos? Thrillist Has You Covered

By Danny Prater

Looking for great vegan content to watch online? You're not alone. In fact, one study estimated that from 2014 to 2017, the number of people who identified as vegan increased by a whopping 600 percent. And plenty of vegetarians and omnivores are curious about ways that they can reduce their consumption of animal-derived products, too.

Keep reading... Show less

73% of Deep-Sea Fish Have Ingested Plastic

Microplastics can really be found everywhere, even in the stomachs of creatures living deep underwater.

Marine scientists from the National University of Ireland (NUI) in Galway found the plastic bits in 73 percent of 233 deep-sea fish collected from the Northwest Atlantic Ocean—one of the highest microplastic frequencies in fish ever recorded worldwide.

Keep reading... Show less
Nathaniel Currier lithograph, 1852

8 Presidents Who Shaped the U.S. Food System (for Better and for Worse)

By Karen Perry Stillerman

As we observe Presidents Day, I'm thinking about a president's role in shaping the way we grow food in the U.S., and how we eat. Quite a few of our past presidents were farmers or ranchers at some point in their lives, and some had infamous relationships with certain foods, whether cheeseburgers or jelly beans or broccoli.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

New Technology Could Turn Tar Sands Oil Into 'Pucks' for Less Hazardous Transport

By Justin Mikulka

A new technology has the potential to transform the transportation of tars sands oil. Right now, the already thick and slow-flowing oil, known as bitumen, has to be diluted with a super-light petroleum product, usually natural gas condensate, in order for it to flow through a pipeline or into a rail tank car.

However, scientists at the University of Calgary's Schulich School of Engineering inadvertently found a way to make tar sands oil even more viscous, turning it into "self-sealing pellets" that could potentially simplify its transport.

Keep reading... Show less
Jaymi Heimbuch / Urban Coyote Initiative

Can Humans, Coyotes and Red Foxes Coexist?

By Jaymi Heimbuch

Coyotes in urban spaces have become the new normal. There is now a large, and growing, population of coyotes in San Francisco. Residents in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Denver—among many other western cities—have long lived alongside coyotes.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
The royal turtle eggs found by the Wildlife Conservation Society. Wildlife Conservation Society / Facebook

Conservationists Discover Nest of One of World's Rarest Turtles

Conservationists have found a nest of a critically endangered turtle with 16 eggs along the Sre Ambel River system near Preah Angkeo village in Cambodia's Koh Kong province, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced Monday.

This is the first nest of the southern river terrapin discovered this year. Four local community rangers have been hired to guard the nest until the eggs hatch.

Keep reading... Show less
Seven of the 13 plaintiffs with their attorney, Andrea Rodgers and her daughter. Our Children's Trust / Facebook

13 Youths 'in a Position of Danger' Sue Washington State Over Climate Crisis

By Andrea Germanos

A group of 13 youths have filed a lawsuit against the State of Washington for breaching its constitutional and Public Trust obligations.

Why? Failure to act on climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!