4-15: Pipe Line or Pipe Dream?

[This blog is about danger to our environment. That word seems anodyne until we remind ourselves that the environment gives us life, it even controls quality of life, e.g., clean water/non-potable water, fertile farming acres/fallow fields, fresh air/smog. The second half of this piece is about actions of the Sioux nations who will be impacted by a pipeline spill. They have even gotten politically involved. The Sioux-Keystone issue must not be seen as a local or isolated matter, however. Environmental mismanagement threatens all of us.]

A leak was detected recently in the 30-inch Keystone I pipeline. Calgary-based owner TransCanada shut the pipeline down and sent a clean-up crew to carry out remediation work. Early spill estimates were in the couple of barrels range; that quickly shot up to over 10,000 barrels, and we are still counting.

While flow from the pipeline has been stopped from the tar sands depot in Hardisty, Alberta, Canada, to Wood River, Illinois, and from Steele City, Nebraska, to Cushing, Oklahoma, the 36-inch Gulf Coast line, the southern segment of the Keystone XL, which runs from Cushing to Nederland, Texas, is still in operation. An application to build the northern segment of the Keystone XL pipeline was rejected by President Obama in November. Caroline Lalley reports from the Sioux Falls Argus Leader:

Brian Walsh of the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources visited the site … The DENR is responsible for monitoring the cleanup and insuring the company follows state laws and procedures during the process.

“They will be expected to remove any soil that’s been contaminated and any groundwater that’s contaminated,” Walsh said….

Big deal! When it comes to the ridiculous phrase “war on terrorism,” we are told, “The terrorists only have to succeed once” for catastrophe to hit. Why isn’t the same principle true for the tar sands pipeline? There only has to be one spill for environmental homicide to occur.

The leak is the fifth in South Dakota for Keystone I … The Public Utilities Commission … spill map shows three releases of petroleum in 2010 and one in 2011.

TransCanada officials said: “No significant impact to the environment has been observed and our investigation continues.” Sure, let’s wait for a significantly impactful event to happen, Oh, boy, we’ll get serious about the environment then.

A spokeswoman for Dakota Rural Action, a grassroots organization focused on family agriculture and conservation, issued a statement of complaint about the lag-time in TransCanada’s notification of authorities after the leak was detected. Dakota Rural Action opposes the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline (DAP), an 1,168-mile conduit through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois to connect the Bakken shale formation to a giant tank farm in Patoka, Illinois. The Bakken shale is source of about 1.1 million barrels of fracked oil a day.

The project has drawn considerable opposition. Some 200 people from several of the region’s Lakota (Sioux) tribes rode horseback in protest of the DAP. Their concern is that the pipeline could leak onto lands sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux, including burial grounds, and contaminate the Missouri River just a few feet from the tribe’s reservation.

Two reminders: Exxon Valdez calamity in Alaska and BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

The pipeline is currently waiting on a decision from a colonel in the army corps of engineers, who oversees such projects, on whether Dakota Access will be granted a permit to proceed, according to Dallas Goldtooth, a Keep It In The Ground campaign organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network. The tribes are petitioning for an environmental impact study, which has not at this point been done, into the pipeline.

Lakota and other Indians are frustrated and upset about what could happen to their sacred lands due to pipeline mishaps, including from the Keystone XL.

Indian activist Chase Iron Eyes
Chase Iron Eyes, a Standing Rock Sioux activist won the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party’s endorsement to run against Republican Rep. Ken Cramer.

“I got into this to defeat (Republican U.S. Rep.) Kevin Cramer because I think I have the grassroots appeal that we desperately need,” Iron Eyes said after delegates nominated him by unanimous ballot….

“This is our identity, North Dakota: The land and rivers … that’s who we are, and we need to make sure that we do prosperity responsibly,” he said.

In the current political climate, can we really “do prosperity responsibly”?

One thought on “4-15: Pipe Line or Pipe Dream?”

  1. We can all try and do something, even writing letters and calling can help. We really need to all vote for responsible people who we hope will do right. We need to let politicians know they may only get 1 turn in office if they don’t. The first thing we need to do is set term limits for all political offices and no pensions till they turn 60 or older.

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