That Pipeline through New England? It’s (Mostly) Owned by Exxon. And They Want to Transport Toxic Tar Sands Oil through It.
Last week, ten national and local Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire organizations including NRDC released a fact sheet exposing Big Oil’s stealth campaign to bring extra dirty tar sands to New England.
What exactly is so troubling about the idea of Exxon’s pipeline companies and Enbridge transporting tar sands through Eastern Canada and New England? To name just a few reasons for concern:
- Tar sands is a dirty fuel – extra damaging and risky to the environment and public health throughout its entire lifecycle of extraction, pipeline transport, refining, and combustion. An area of Alberta’s Boreal forest the size of Florida could eventually be decimated if industry is allowed to continue expanding their extraction efforts. The damage from tar sands extends globally, as it causes 20% more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil, taking us in the wrong direction when the world needs to transition to clean energy.
- Tar sands pipelines pose greater safety risks to the land and water along their path. Diluted bitumen – raw tar sands mixed with a diluent so that it can be transported via pipelines – is more corrosive and abrasive than conventional oil, creating a greater spill risk. And, when tar sands pipelines do spill into rivers, rather than floating on the surface, the diluted bitumen separates – with the diluents evaporating and the bitumen becoming submerged and impossible to fully clean up.
- Exxon and Enbridge already have a bad track record with tar sands pipelines. ExxonMobil, the company responsible for the disastrous Valdez oil spill that rocked the world in 1989, was also responsible for the July 2011 Silvertip Pipeline spill that dumped 42,000 gallons of oil into the pristine Yellowstone River in Montana. While that oil spilled happened to be conventional crude oil, the pipeline is also used to move corrosive tar sands “diluted bitumen.” Enbridge’s best-known pipeline spill was the million gallon tar sands spill into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in July 2010. Just last week—more than two years after the spill – the Environmental Protection Agency told Enbridge that they still need to keep cleaning up the river.