Stop Tar Sands Expansion in Wisconsin

Enbridge Energy Company, a large Canadian pipeline owner, is proposing to triple the capacity of its Line 61, part of the Enbridge Lakehead Pipeline System. This pipeline is currently carrying Canadian tar sands through Wisconsin from Superior, WI, south to Delevan, WI. The pipeline then crosses over the Illinois state line and continues south where the tar sands are distributed to refineries (click here for map). The continued expansion of tar sands extraction and infrastructure would mean “game over for the climate” according to top climate scientist James Hansen. We must stand up and say NO to tar sands!

The proposed expansion is planned in two phases, which will result in a tripling of its capacity:  phase 1 will involve the modification of 3 existing pump stations to increase tar sands crude flow from 400,000 bpd (barrels per day) to 560,000 bpd; phase 2 will involve the construction of 9 new pumping stations in Wisconsin along the pipeline route and increase the tar sands crude flow to 1,200,000 bpd.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is currently considering air pollution construction permit no. 13-DFC-129 for the line.  This permit is for construction of three new crude oil storage tanks and modification of two existing crude oil storage tanks as part of the Line 61 capacity expansion.  There will be additional hearings and comment periods soon for the DNR permits required for construction and modification of the Line 61 pumping stations.  However, there has been no call for a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). In view of Enbridge Energy’s past history of pipeline breaks, this poses a major risk.

Take action today to stop the expansion of Enbridge Line 61!

  1. Urge the Wisconsin DNR to require local hearings and a full Environmental Impact Statement
  2. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, urging your neighbors to follow your lead
  3. Contact your state legislators and members of the Dane County Board of Supervisors

Make sure you urge the DNR to reject the permit and do a full Environmental Assessment!

Some reasons why this expansion is a very bad idea (feel free to include these talking points in your comments):

1.  This pipeline flows through and threatens with potential tar sands crude oil spills the watershed for two of the Great Lakes, Superior and Michigan, part of the largest fresh water resource on the planet.  Line 61 also crosses the Wisconsin River, a tributary of the Mississippi River.  We are already living with an unreasonable risk the pipeline poses as is; to allow an increase is both foolhardy and dangerous.

2.  Enbridge has proven to be a bad corporate citizen in the operation of pipelines.  The Kalamazoo River had a burst Enbridge pipeline spill 1,000,000 gallons of tar sands crude in July, 2010.  Enbridge took 17 hours to report the spill and was sited by federal regulators, PHMSA, with 24 violations and $3.7 million fine. The tar sands crude is still not cleaned up four years later with over $1 billion spent.  In July, 2012 an Enbridge pipeline in the Line 61 corridor burst, resulting in a geyser of crude oil near Grand Marsh, WI.  U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood stated, “…accidents, like the one in Wisconsin, are absolutely unacceptable.” PHMSA issued an action requiring an extensive review of repairs and corrective actions before allowing the pipeline to reopen.  These are the glaring examples of why, given the present risk to resources, this company should not be allowed to expand the flow of tarsands crude.

(Image: attempted cleanup of 19,500 barrels of oil that leaked into Kalamazoo River)

3.  The expansion of the Enbridge Line 61 will not provide any economic gain for the communities at risk along the pipeline route.  The pumping stations, once installed, are remotely controlled and will not result in new employment for local residents.  It has been established that the intent of the increased extraction of Canadian tar sands is to move more tar sands to refiners located near ports for tanker movement to international markets. The citizens of Wisconsin and other States on the pipeline route become “pass throughs” that take all the risks for very little gain.

4.  Extraction and burning of the Canadian tar sands has the potential of being the carbon source that could tip the planet into uncontrollable temperature rise and climate change.  This plan of tar sands pipeline expansion by Enbridge Energy Co. is a glaring example of this rogue company’s irresponsible attitude to settled scientific evidence of the adverse climate change caused by increased burning of fossil fuels.  It is time for citizens to demand that the regulatory arms of government curb the destructive plans of the fossil fuel industry.

2 responses

  1. […] permit are planned in the state, though some are pushing the DNR to allow more hearings and to perform a complete Environmental Assessment on the pipeline […]