If you're wondering why environmental groups like ours are so concerned about the KeystoneXL tar sands pipeline, then read on. Federal regulators announced last week
that the Canadian company responsible for the 2010 pipeline spill in Michigan's Kalamazoo River had violated 24 safety regulations.
Although the feds are proposing a $3.7 million penalty, even if Enbridge -- the Canadian company responsible for the spill -- ends up paying that amount, it will be a trifling compared to the cost of the damage and cleanup, estimated at about a billion dollars.
Enbridge, meanwhile, wants to double the capacity of its pipeline and apparently has been rushing its application in hopes of getting that cleared before the feds released its report on the Kalamazoo spill.
The bigger problem, though, as pointed out by the Natural Resources Defense Council
, is that the report demonstrates the folly in allowing polluting industries to self-regulate. You might recall that our many members of Congress, speaking for their corporate paymasters, have promised us that allowing industry to regulate itself will prevent problems and create jobs and blah blah blah. Unsurprisingly, that's not working out.
Here is what the feds found about the Enbridge spill:
-- The company knew the pipeline has corrosion problems for years but did nothing about it.
-- Enbridge waited almost a day to alert officials after discovering the spill.
-- The company didn't follow its own safety procedures for dealing with a spill.
-- Enbridge had vastly underestimated the worse case scenario for a spill, both in terms of how much tar sands would leak and how fast a leak would be plugged.
What Enbridge really wants is to make money, and lots of it. Proper safety procedures reduce revenues, which is why allowing companies like Enbridge to self-regulate amounts is going to lead to environmentally damaging spills.
TransCanada wants to run a pipeline from the tar sands in northern Alberta all the way to Texas, straight through America's heartland, so it can ship the refined oil to other countries. This 1,200-mile pipeline will be subject to the same "regulations" as the Enbridge pipeline, which isn't very comforting.