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Gender: Female
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Member since: Mon Dec 13, 2004, 02:55 AM
Number of posts: 12,232

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Enbridge pipeline plan in northern Wisconsin prompts concerns


Enbridge Energy Co., which wants to expand pipeline capacity in northern Wisconsin, is drawing concerns because of the company's operating history of spills and other problems.

A new state report says the company has had 85 oil spills over the past decade, although most were considered small.

The Department of Natural Resources has released an environmental-impact statement on the project in Douglas County. It concluded that a spill of 500 gallons or more would have a "substantial" impact on water resources and endangered species and habitat, meaning leaking oil could remain in the environment for up to a year.

The report, more than 600 pages long, analyzes potential impacts of a 14-mile-long project that environmentalists say has statewide implications.

Enbridge has a history of spills. First Nations have been working nationally and together across the border to educate and oppose these potentially devastating pipeline expansions.


Enbridge does not have a stellar maintenance record.

843,000 gallons spilled from an Enbridge pipeline into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in 2010. The Environmental Protection Association estimates that now, three years after the spill, 280,000 gallons still remain in the river.

In 2002 an Enbridge pipeline dumped 48,000 gallons of oil west of Cass Lake Minnesota. On site monitoring indicates continuing crude oil contamination of the groundwater aquifer today.

A 50,000-gallon spill in 2012 near Grand Marsh Wisconsin prompted the United States Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Safety Administration (PHSMA) to order Enbridge to submit plans to improve the safety of the Lakehead System.

Sierra Club notes additional concerns. Much more info at the link than I can post here.


More oil means more pipelines
Together, these pipelines could bring up to 1 million more barrels of oil into Superior. That oil will not stay there. Like Enbridge’s other expansion plans, this oil will have to move through Wisconsin, to the south—requiring a new pipeline south of Superior.

Enbridge has started the first steps to building another pipeline through the heart of Wisconsin, calling it a Line-61 twin, meaning they will likely build another pipeline right next to the existing Line 61. When complete, Line 61 will be the largest tar sands pipeline in the world, outside of Russia. We could soon have the two largest pipelines in the world outside of Russia, right next to each other—two pipelines going through the St. Croix River (a National Scenic and Wildlife River), the Wisconsin River, the Rock River, and the other important areas in Wisconsin. ‘Twinning’ the pipeline means twinning the threat that is posed through Wisconsin.

In the Environmental Impact Statement, the DNR did not consider the environmental concerns about the Line 61-twin. However, if the DNR permits these two pipelines, Enbridge will need to build a pipeline to move this oil. The DNR should study all three pipelines as one project.

These pipelines are all risk and no reward for Wisconsin.
A recently released report from the National Academy of Sciences examined the difference between tar sands oil and traditional oil. It found that cleaning up a tar sands spill in a waterway is significantly more difficult and potentially up to 14.5 times more expensive than cleaning up a non-tar sands oil spill. The disastrous Enbridge Line 6B tar sands spill in Michigan in 2010 made it clear that even a smaller rupture with a quicker response time in the Wisconsin River, Rock River, or the St. Croix River (a National Scenic and Wildlife River) could be devastating. The DNR needs to scrutinize how spills would be cleaned up, the permanent damage to waterways, and the impacts to Wisconsin’s economy. The DNR’s review does not consider how difficult (or impossible) it could be to clean up a spill if it were to occur under snow or ice.
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