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New Report Cites Pipeline Companies' "Crude Behavior"

PHOTO: The industry has proposed building or expanding thousands of miles of tar sands pipelines  Courtesy of NWF.
PHOTO: The industry has proposed building or expanding thousands of miles of tar sands pipelines Courtesy of NWF.
December 10, 2012

YANKTON, S.D. - President Obama is getting a lot of pressure to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, which would pump millions of gallons of crude oil from Canada to Texas. A new report by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), however, cites environmental concerns and "bullying" behavior toward landowners by 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 clean-up has gone poorly, especially with the way Enbridge created its temporary work space.

"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 country 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 goodwill.

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 lawmakers to make sure the deck is not stacked against property owners, and the report urges the State Department to take a long, hard look at how pipeline companies do business before approving any more pipelines.

The NWF report's author, Peter La Fontaine, says Insko isn't the only landowner who 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 really 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 greater investment in clean energy.

That NWF report is at nwf.org.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD