Report: Enbridge Tar Sands Pipeline Expansion 'All Risk, No Reward'

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Common Dreams

Report: Enbridge Tar Sands Pipeline Expansion 'All Risk, No Reward'

Line 67 expansion threatens key habitats, tribal lands with spill of 'world's dirtiest fuel'

by
Lauren McCauley, staff writer

Enbridge is seeking a pipeline expansion that will double the amount of "dirty" tar sands pumped along the coast of Lake Superior and across key habitats in North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. But according to a new report (pdf) published Monday, that proposed plan amounts to 'all risk and no reward' for the land and people along the way.

The proposed expansion of the Alberta Clipper, also known as Line 67, would double the capacity of the pipeline to 800,000 barrels per day (bpd) of tar sands oil—nearly the same as TransCanada’s controversial Keystone XL pipeline—and construct two new tar sands storage tanks on the shores of Lake Superior.

"Expanding the Alberta Clipper tar sands pipeline would move towards more dirty, dangerous tar sands crude through the region, which would put American and Tribal lands and waters, including the Great Lakes, at risk of more devastating oil spills," says Michael Marx, beyond oil campaign director for the Sierra Club, which authored the report along with 13 other groups including the Indigenous Environmental Network.

According to the report, titled All Risk, No Reward: The Alberta Clipper Tar Sands Pipeline Expansion, the risks associated with the pipeline expansion include extreme environmental degradation and carbon pollution as well as tremendous threats to the land, water, and health of the communities along the proposed route in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The pipeline traverses 327 miles and passes through prairie, forests, farms, rivers and lakes on land that includes private and tribal property.

The report warns that higher capacity pipelines means more crude pumped at higher temperature and pressure, raising the risk of accidents.

Further, in addition to the immediate impact of a spill, report author Sarah Milne warns that higher capacity pipelines further enable tar sands industry growth, "generating massive carbon pollution at a time when both the U.S. and Canada must transition away from dirty fuels and to renewable energy."

“The risks are too high," said Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “Any spill, leak or explosion could have a devastating effect to the rich biodiversity and cultural diversity of northern Minnesota. The human rights of Native people in northern Alberta, Canada where this crude oil comes from are already being violated. There can be no reward when it comes to dirty oil that ruins the quality of water, ecosystems and the life of people."

The release of the report comes ahead of an April 3 rally against the expansion to be held before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission public hearing in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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