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Stop Tar Sands Expansion in Wisconsin!

Most people have heard of the Keystone XL pipeline and the threat it would have posed to the climate and the environment. Much less well known is the fact that the world’s largest pipeline carries toxic tar sands oil right through Wisconsin, including Dane County. 350 Madison invites you to join the fight against tar sands expansion in Wisconsin!

Enbridge, a $42 billion Canadian company, wants to expand its pipeline network throughout the Midwest to transport tar sands from the Canadian boreal forests to the Gulf Coast, likely for export. With aggressive campaigns on the East and West Coasts opposing export plans, Enbridge is seeking to make the Midwest a tar sands freeway to get the oil south.

Enbridge Line 61 travels through Wisconsin from Superior to Delavan (click here for map), then crosses the Illinois state line and continues south to refineries. Enbridge is currently tripling the capacity of Line 61 from the original 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 1.2 million barrels per day—45% more than the Keystone XL would have carried.

And Enbridge’s plans don’t stop with Line 61. Initial work is under way to “twin” Line 61creating a new Line 66 in the same corridor that would carry an additional 800,000 bpd. With Line 61 and new Line 66 at full capacity, 2 million barrels of tar sands oil would flow through Wisconsin each day.

While the overseas oil markets will see the benefits, Wisconsin and other Midwestern states will take all the risks. Enbridge has been responsible for more than 800 spills since 1999, including the largest inland oil pipeline spill in U.S. history— the 2010 Kalamazoo River disaster. As Kalamazoo made clear, tar sands spills are even more devastating than classic crude oil spills. Tar sands oil must be diluted with toxic chemicals to allow it to flow through a pipeline. With a spill, these chemicals evaporate, sickening people in surrounding areas. Meanwhile, the heavy tar sands oil sinks to the bottom of waterways, making cleanup nearly impossible and exceedingly expensive ($1.2 billion and counting for Kalamazoo).

Section of pipe from Kalamazoo spill c National Transportation Safety Board-thumb-500x375-7203-thumb-500x375-7204

Tar sands oil is also far more carbon-polluting than conventional fossil fuels. Top climate scientist James Hansen has said that continued expansion of tar sands extraction means “game over for the climate.”

350 Madison has played a key role in the fight against the Midwest tar sands invasion. In Dane County, our determined intervention convinced the county Zoning and Land Regulation Committee to require Enbridge to obtain special environmental cleanup insurance as a condition for approval of the zoning permit needed to expand Line 61. Shortly thereafter, a new law prohibiting counties from imposing environmental insurance requirements on a pipeline company was inserted into the state budget, passed by the right-wing legislature, and signed into law by Governor Scott Walker. However, 350 Madison’s efforts delayed the Line 61 expansion for more than a year, holding back a minimum of 310,000 barrels of toxic tar sands each day. Going forward, we’ll continue working to mobilize citizens up and down Line 61 and new Line 66 to say NO to Enbridge’s “all risk—no benefit” plans for Wisconsin and the entire Great Lakes region.

The rejection of the Keystone XL shows the power of the climate movement.  Please join us in standing up and saying NO to tar sands! 

Help Us Keep the Pressure On!

To be informed about future developments and opportunities to take action, sign up for the 350 Madison email list. Follow 350 Madison’s Wisconsin Pipeline Blog to stay current on the fight against the tar sands invasion in Dane County and beyond. You can learn more about tar sands oil, Enbridge’s tar sands network of pipelines in the Great Lakes region, and specific proposals for Wisconsin here. For more on the Kalamazoo River disaster and the hazards of diluted bitumen, see the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You’ve Never Heard Of and a 2013 update, The Dilbit Disaster 3 Years Later: Sunken Oil Is Looming Threat to Kalamazoo River.


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 […]