Pipelines (see below)
All oil and crude oil pipelines are extremely unsafe and hazardous to the communities, animals, and plants spewing Benzene in the air and causing cancer and other illnesses to the entire surrounding area, as we now know from a Texas study that is over one year old.
The oil and gas industry would have us believe that we should drain every last drop of oil from the ground until we are literally sucked dry; however that is not the case because of the problem of Global Warming. Scientists say we must literally leave much of known global resources of coal, oil, and natural gas in the ground if we are going to achieve not raising our global temperature more than 2°C, which is necessary to prevent major catastrophe (the World bank says there is no certainty that adaptation to a 4°C world is possible, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change AR4 synopsis says unmitigated climate change would, in the long term, be likely to exceed the capacity of natural, managed and human systems to adapt). When the politicians say that it is not widely accepted that climate change is a real phenomenon, what they are really saying is that they are unwilling to challenge conventional wisdom even though without such leadership humanity could be dead within 100 years or even sooner.
Despite all this, the oil and gas industry continues to escalate their extraction of oil from tar sands in Alberta, Canada and the Bakken in North Dakota, among other places. This is against conventional wisdom that says that we must leave much of this oil in the ground for all the future. We need to transition to electric vehicles as soon as possible and end our dependence on fossil fuels, such as are being carried through pipelines. Therefore all new pipeline construction must be stopped unless we absolutely need this oil to fulfill existing demand in our own country. However, we have learned that a lot of oil is being transported through the pipelines to the Gulf Coast, for example, and other coastal cities, where it is exported out of the U.S. We have learned that tar sand oils that go to the Gulf Coast in Texas are refined and 60% of the oil refined there is exported out of the U.S. In our opinion, we should not be exporting oil to other countries to encourage this behavior of inducing more Global Warming, where Third World Countries are being hit the hardest. This is just not responsible stewardship of the planet.
The biggest pipeline companies in Canada are Enbridge, Trans-Canada, and Kinder-Morgan. Trans-Canada is the father of the Keystone Pipeline and its evil twin the Keystone XL pipeline which drew the first, large resistance from the public and widely publicized resistance. The KXL pipeline was thankfully vetoed by President Obama but then President Trump tried to bring it back, but there are many in Nebraska that are courageously trying to stop it. Before President Trump tried to bring it back, Trans-Canada tried to levy a billion dollar lawsuit against the US government because according to NAFTA, nothing can stand in the way between a large company and its right to pursuit of profit, which is one of the evils of recent trade laws that we must also fight.
Enbridge is the father of a whole different chain of pipelines that carry more tar sand oil than Keystone and Keystone XL. The point of entry into the United States is line 3, and recently Enbridge has used illegal political manuevers to coerce the U.S. State Department to allow this pipeline to go over the U.S. border without proper Environmental Impact Statements. Trans-Canada is also planning new pipelines and Enbridge is planning on building more pipelines, such as a line 3 replacement and a twin to line 61 that would carry more tar sands oil, extacted from Alberta, Canada, where we are not supposed to extract any more oil, more oil than Keystone XL would ever have carried. Phil Reynolds and Anna Moeller, so far, are the only elected official in Illinois that have not just rubber-stamped the approval of the Enbridge pipelines through Illinois, and for that we honor Phil Reynolds and Anna Moeller.
Kinder-Morgan has recently been approved to build a pipeline going West from Alberta tar sand fields to the coast of Canada where Canada will try to export this tar sands to other countries directly without passing through the United States. This pipeline was recently approved by the supposedly progressive Justin Trudeau but is being fought mainly in British Columbia, where many First Nation people and environmentally conscious people live.
Pipelines, as well as oil by rail, are also a threat to our water supply because of the problem of contamination of water when there are oil spills or leaks. Since 2010, there have been over 3,300 spills from oil or natural gas pipelines, some big, some small, and when waterways are contaminated, it is impossible to fully clean them up, despite what is being portrayed in the media. We know people in Michigan who have told us that after the Kalamazoo River spill, that river is still not really cleaned up, for example.
In Illinois, Forest City 350 have constructed a double-headed pipeline snake monster to demonstrate and protest against the twinning of line 61 by Enbridge, with many sister organizations creating sections of the pipeline snake monster. The plans for this pipeline monster are online and other organizations, such as Bold Nebraska, have also used this symbol of the pipeline monster. This snake has been brought to many demonstrations including the Break Free From Fossil Fuels Action in Whiting, Indiana where the world was told that it is past time to transition away from fossil fuels. This snake was also brought to Chicago a number of times, at the 2017 Earth Day Climate March and also during a demonstration there against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Recently, at the Oceti Sakowin Camp, afilliated with Standing Rock, a convergence of Indigenous peoples, has gotten International attention for their brave stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Indigenous people from all around have united for the first time in hundreds of years to make this last stand against the greed of the anachronistic fossil fuel empire.
Iowa put up a tremendously good fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline, but the Iowa Utility Board (IUB), a board with only 3 members, voted to continue construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through Iowa despite massive public opposition. In Illinois, Tabitha Tripp of the Shawnee Sentinels and SAFE was the only true public defender who managed to successfully file a Petition to Intervene in Illinois, and she fought on behalf of true public need and interest, and some of us helped her as much as we could, but the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) (sometimes confused with the Illinois Chamber of Commerce) decided against her without even considering her arguments because they claimed she did not properly admit evidence into the case.
However, concerned citizens have learned from that incident and are planning to Intervene in the next battle over the twinning of line 61, an Enbridge pipeline, and this time we will be certain to properly admit this evidence (even though we shouldn't have to admit uncontroversal scientific facts). Any citizen can get involved in this ICC intervention process.
A recent report tells us that we must start no new fossil fuel infrastructure projects at all if we are to keep from averting major catstrophe in our country.
We need to turn to renewable energy NOW before our climate becomes unliveable.
There is also a horrible record of spills from pipelines in the U.S. Enbridge alone, between 1999 and 2010, has a record of more than 800 spills including the horrible spill in the Kalamazoo River from line 6B that still has not been fully cleaned up, despite what they are telling us. The Kalamazoo River spill occurred after Enbridge knew about several deficiencies in their pipeline but did not act significantly on that knowledge.
Please also see the following site for the gross negligence of Enbridge in maintaining their pipelines as evidenced in the Kalamazoo spill and since they are self-supervised we have no way to know that they will ever improve: Elizabeth McGowan and Lisa Song, The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You´ve Never Heard Of, Part 1, June 26, 2012, Inside Climate News.
Now let me tell you about Line 5. Line 5 itself has spilled over one million gallons of oil and gas, now tell me that's safe. So I believe we are rightfully and greatly concerned about Enbridge line 5, that passes through the Mackinac Strait, straight through the Great Lakes (yes, straight through the water, along the bottom of the lake) between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. This pipeline is over 60 years old. When the pipeline was first built, they anticipated it would only be good for 50 years. Enbridge has made no announcement yet to replace or stop using this pipeline. This is a major disaster waiting to happen. They already found a small pin-hole size leak in this very pipeline in December of 2014 and fixed it (it was found by a visual inspection). Some commenters were quick to point out that in the winter months of January and February, visual inspection (as well as cleanup) is next to impossible when the strait is frozen over. This river flows into Lake Michigan so this contamination caused will affect the water supply of the Greater Chicago area as well as the entire region. There has been discussion that this would be the worst possible place in the entire world for a pipeline spill.
Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and Keystone (KXL) were recently illegally formally approved by US President Donald Trump despite the fact that both were already not approved. DAPL was still undergoing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) review per an order of the Army Corps of Engineers from December 5th 2016, after Massive opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline all the year of 2016 at the Standing Rock camp in North Dakota. People from all over the world came to stand ground to protect our environment with the Water Protectors and demonstrations all over the world occurred in support of Standing Rock. This became a global phenomenon, largely under-reported by mass media. Even though the Dec 5th order was to stop construction of DAPL under Lake Oahe, numerous reports indicate that DAPL had illegally continued construction efforts anyhow. President Trump has illegally ignored the EIS review process and mandated that the pipelines continue. Some would say that Trump is stupid for doing this. He seems to be blissfully unaware of the consequences of these pipelines. There have been numerous attacks of the Water Protectors in North Dakota with rubber bullets, water cannons, audio attacks, and extremely merciless law enforcement activities that the media largely blissfully ignores (under pressure from the rich oligarchy no doubt). How long will the attack on our environment continue unchecked while the poor people who actually care about the future are stifled and muffled and prevented from protecting our planet?
Indigenous people (American Indians) have often been at the forefront of this fight and for that we are eternally grateful to their advanced, sustainable civilization, culture, and knowledge.
Please find your local environmental group and get involved in trying to change the route we're on. If we don't act now, we may never get another chance.
If you are in Minnesota, you should contact Minnesota 350.
If you are in Illinois, some ways to get involved include contacting Fox Valley Citizens for Peace and Justice or 350 Kishwaukee or Forest City 350 or Chicago in Solidarity with Standing Rock or Chicago 350 (Chicago), or Save Our Illinois Land.
This page last updated on 8/20/17.