Environmental activists who oppose the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline are looking to the recent oil spill in Mayflower to solidify their case as they plan to testify against the new pipeline Thursday in Nebraska.
Proponents of the pipeline argue it is still the safest mode of transport for a resource which people must continue to rely on.
Glen Hooks of the Sierra Club says the incident in Mayflower demonstrates the inevitability of eventual spills from any pipeline. “The amount of risk is no where near the amount of reward that’s being promised by the proponents of this pipeline."
"I’ll be speaking on behalf of the people of Arkansas, especially those families in Mayflower who still cannot go home,” says Hooks. “I’ll be urging the State Department to reject this Keystone XL pipeline. We have better options and we have safer options and really America deserves a lot better.”
The State Department must approve construction for the part of the pipeline that would run across the border between Canada and the U.S.
Arkansas’s Second District Congressman Tim Griffin, who yesterday joined 16 other U.S. Representatives in sponsoring the Northern Route Approval Act in support of Keystone XL, says pipelines are absolutely safer than moving oil with a motor vehicle or by using any other method.
Griffin says he trusts the findings of Nebraska’s public officials who have studied the potential risk of Keystone XL’s environmental harm to aquifers and other areas.
"They have looked extensively at potential impact. They’ve looked at all of the different issues. And the Governor of the state of Nebraska has approved it. He says that construction and operation of the Keystone pipeline would have minimal environmental impacts in Nebraska,” Griffin says
A proposed section of the Keystone XL pipeline would run over the Ogallala aquifer which supplies drinking and irrigation water for residents of Nebraska. Tuesday, Griffin asked ExxonMobil to move its Pegasus Pipeline away from the Lake Maumelle Watershed which provides drinking water for 400,000 Central Arkansas residents.
Susan Connolly is a resident of Marshall, Michigan where nearly 3 years ago a pipeline burst and polluted the Kalamazoo River.
She says oil spills will continue to happen and will deeply affect the well-being of residents who live near pipelines. “It just happened three weeks ago in Mayflower. We see a mirror image of what occurred to us in Michigan…We must look at the pipeline operators, but also our federal and state legislators to be there for the people,” she says.
The 2010 oil spill in Michigan spilled nearly 1,000,000 gallons of oil while officials estimate around 300,000 gallons spilled in Mayflower.