To put it mildly, this story is not comforting.
Two aging oil and natural gas pipelines running under the sparkling waters of the Straits of Mackinac in northern Michigan are time bombs that could devastate the upper Great Lakes if they rupture, according to a report issued today by theNational Wildlife Federation.
The pipelines are owned by Enbridge Inc. and carry an estimated 20 million gallons of oil and natural gas every day under the pristine water from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario. The company announced in May that it plans to increase the volume of oil it pumps through the lines, a proposal the federation says could strain the 59-year-old pipes to the breaking point.
The federation worries that Enbridge, the company responsible for the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history that fouled the Kalamazoo River two years ago, has not properly maintained the pipelines and is not prepared to respond quickly in case of a leak.
The question is, why do we tolerate these types of risks to our health, safety, and environment? At the minimum, as the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) says, "more stringent federal safety standards are needed for pipelines." In addition, NWF urges that "state and federal agencies [should] deny all new interstate oil pipelines and expansion applications until rules are in place addressing the more toxic tar sands oil." That doesn't seem like too much to ask, given what's at risk, and given what they types of fossil fuel disasters that have happened in the past. Even better, how about we move as rapidly as possible to transition away from fossil fuels, and towards clean energy? After all, last I checked, wind and solar don't "spill."