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New Report Cites Pipeline Companies' "Crude Behavior"

Thousands of tar sands pipelines would criss cross the nation  Courtesy of: Catherine Mann/InsideClimate News
Thousands of tar sands pipelines would criss cross the nation Courtesy of: Catherine Mann/InsideClimate News
December 7, 2012

FLINT, Mich. – The Obama administration is expected to make a decision soon on the Keystone XL pipeline that would ship millions of gallons of crude oil from Canada to Texas.

A new National Wildlife Federation report warns about bad behavior on the part of the pipeline companies. Among other things, the report investigated spills across the country, like the one in Michigan that polluted the Kalamazoo River.

Jeff Insko, who has a pipeline running through his backyard near Flint, says the cleanup has gone poorly, especially with the way the Canadian pipeline company Enbridge created its temporary workspace.

"That meant that Enbridge was going to take down some 100 trees of ours, mature trees that were like a privacy screen, and then a large garden in front of that."

Insko says he felt "bullied" into accepting the company's settlement, but many others went to court and are still fighting. The report cites similar stories around the nation involving other pipeline companies as well. Supporters say the oil pipelines create jobs, and are good neighbors. But the report says tar sands pipelines create staggering amounts of pollution and not much good will.

Insko says most people who live along proposed pipeline routes don't understand the ins and outs of eminent domain law. And his family was no exception.

"It was a frightening prospect for us. Negotiations in our case went on for six months. We were tired, worn out, beaten down, wanted it to be over."

Homeowners like Insko have urged state lawmakers to make sure that the deck is not stacked against property owners, and the report urges the administration to take a long, hard look at how pipeline companies do business before approving any more pipelines.

The report's author, Peter La Fontaine, says Insko isn't the only landowner who has had problems with pipeline companies.

"The more we learned about TransCanada, Enbridge, and the rest of the industry, it became clear that these companies were violating the public trust."

Enbridge officials say they learned from the Michigan oil spill and are trying to cooperate with homeowners, but opposition continues to grow. The report recommends tougher safety standards, no new permits, and more investment in clean energy.

Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - MI