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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Enbridge Oil Disaster: Tar sands piped from Canada through the heart of America -- 1 million gallons threaten Lake Michigan -- do we need the Keystone XL Project?

Enbridge Oil Disaster

On July 26, 2010, a pipeline owned by Alberta, Canada-based Enbridge Inc. ruptured from unknown causes, gushing tar sands oil into a nearby creek until Monday morning before Enbridge shut off the flow.

The EPA reports 1 million gallons have spilled into Michigan's Battle Creek, which feeds the Kalamazoo River and empties into Lake Michigan. Over 24 miles of river are already stained with "impressive slugs of oil," and the flow is now threatening to poison one of the great lakes. This new environmental disaster may be the worst oil spill in U.S. Midwest history, and comes at time when the nation is still feeling the sting of an ongoing tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico.

Like BP, Enbridge has constantly assured government and citizens that its operations are safe, and many in the pipeline industry have exploited the gulf tragedy to tout Canadian tar sands as a safer alternative to deepwater drilling. In light of this new spill, we can see that's simply not true.

The State Department is in the process of approving a massive expansion of the Canadian crude pipeline network, called the Keystone XL project. This pipeline would carry an additional 900,000 barrels of tar sands crude into the US every day, exposing more American communities and fragile freshwater ecosystems to spills like the Kalamazoo River disaster. The new proposed pipeline will cut directly through the Ogallala aquifer, which supplies water to 27% of the irrigated land in the United States.

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