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National Academy of Sciences Tar Sands Report Largely Misses the Point

2 min. read

The New York Times reports on a new study by the National Academy of Sciences, "released on Tuesday, [which] found that batches of diluted bitumen were no more likely to corrode or damage pipelines." The study also "determined that pipeline operators had no reason to change the way they handled the product."

The problem is, this finding seems to be largely missing the point. The fact is, we've seen tar sands pipelines fail catastrophically, as they've done multiple times in recent years, they do a great deal of damage, given the corrosive, toxic substance they are carrying.  InsideClimate News has been closely covering this story, even winning a Pulitzer Prize for its efforts, and what it's found is highly troubling: from the 2010 tar sands pipeline rupture into Michigan's Kalamazoo River, to the nasty impacts of this spill, to the fact that new pipeline safety regulations won't apply to Keystone XL, to the disastrous ExxonMobil Pegasus tar sands pipeline rupture in Mayflower, Arkansas in late March 2013.  And there's no reason to believe this won't keep happening.

Fortunately, there are people fighting to prevent future tar sands spills, including "Green Billionaire" Tom Steyer, who recently held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC to unveil "We Love Our Land, a first-of-its-kind digital campaign to engage President Barack Obama’s online supporters, including Organizing for America members, in helping the Administration protect the public interest by rejecting the Keystone XL Pipeline." At that same event, Steyer brought a sample of the tar sands oil spilled in Mayflower, which it turns out contains "seven highly toxic substances: benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene, xylene, chromium and lead."

For more on the tar sands oil spilled in Mayflower, see the Environmental Working Group report, "Poisons in the Pipeline: Tests Find Toxic Stew in Oil Spill."   Then, ask yourself, would you want one of these tar sands pipelines running anywhere near your neighborhood, or on top of the aquifer which supplies your water?