Pardon our housekeeping but, we need to transfer some blog posts from our old site, pipelineperil.com. I’m not into downloading some transfer app and figuring out how to use it to neatly move this. I’m a copy and paste kind of girl. I’m too busy and irritable today. These are posts from 2015, that are worth saving and at some point I will let the other domain go in favor of bravewisconsin. Followers have probably read these so, you can ignore this blog post. If you haven’t read them, it will give you some perspective. I got a kick out of rereading them. I suggest using the sound track of the Last of the Mohicans, as you read. After all, it’s always been about greed and out of control capitalism, it was back then, it is now. Somehow our society fails to acknowledge that and ignores it, or even calls it ‘development’ like all that rape, killing and pillaging was a good thing back then, or now. Anyway, it’s a good time to get fired up for the fight. It’s coming. Enbridge just hopes we don’t see the fires of their camps over the horizon. We have. Anyway, if you have time to spend reading old blog posts, and playing inspirational music, enjoy!
The Perfect Storm
AUGUST 8, 2015
The August 7th headline of the Daily Jefferson County Union entitled Firefighters Rosters Shrinking is concerning.
Read here (and weep).
This is a very disturbing headline at a time when the Enbridge Line 61 is being expanded to 1.2 million barrels, or 50,400,000 gallons per day. Enbridge has repeatedly reassured residents nearby the line that our fire departments and emergency response were up to the task in the event of a pipeline rupture. This story seems to indicate this is not the case, and that monetary gifts from Enbridge to the fire departments and/or EMS, in the areas of the pipeline are not sufficient to respond to a disaster.
It’s particularly troubling that the Hazardous Materials Team is threatened. The oil in these lines is explosive. The pipelines contain natural gas condensates, hydrogen sulfide gas, benzene, toulene, xylene and other ‘proprietary’ chemicals that Enbridge does not feel the public should know about. In the event of a full bore rupture on Line 61, such as the one that occurred in Marshall MI, in one hour, 650,000 gallons of toxic gas will spill out along with the 1.5 million gallons of the liquid portion of dilbit. Much of this gas is heavier than air and will follow the topography to low lying areas and is less likely to disperse with the wind. We live in drumlin country, with hills and low wetlands in some areas. We also live among rivers and lakes. We have lots of dead end roads where residents will have difficulty exiting the spill area. Residents could have to traverse rugged terrain to get out of a gas filled area, maybe in the dark, without flashlights, maybe in the winter, perhaps with young children, or disabled or elderly….and now, those who we look to for assistance, our first responers, are in very short supply.
Line 61 and Line 6a, which is 50 years old, both carry tar sands oil or dilbit. Line 6a is running so hot, it melts snow in the winter and glows green with grass in very early spring. We don’t have just one tars sands line, we have 2, including the world’s biggest tars sands pipeline, plus a diluent line and another crude line….and now, it looks like we may not have a Hazardous Materials Team.
This concern is magnified by the fact that Enbridge has announced plans to expand the corridor in their forward looking financial statements, to include a Line 61-Twin slated to carry the highly explosive Bakken oil at a rate of 550,000 barrels per day. Then there is the matter of why the corridor is so large on their aerial survey and the matter of Line 66. What else does Enbridge plan to put in there and do we really have the resources to ensure our safety? The disclosures in this article put a lot of doubt in my mind that we can keep our first responders safe and rescue our residents in the area of the pipeline, let alone try to mitigate any environmental risk.
I have been a first responder and I have a clue to response time. I also know how devoted emergency personnel are. I respect everything they do. The problem is, when you have a huge hazard like this in your community, you need a full time fire department and a Hazardous Material Team. This is not meant to insult our firefighters, but rather to illustrate the difficult position that Enbridge has put them and our entire community in. Our emergency responders are at risk, too and given Enbridge supposedly does their training, it’s a concern.
If you live on the corridor, it’s time to develop a personal safety plan for your family. You can and should read the Enbridge brochure. You can also read my answer to their brochure below, with my comments made after the asterisk in italics * and really think through what your best survival strategy is. You want to stay alive and stay well.
You should have received a brochure from Enbridge. If not, here is their plan, keep in mind, the snark is my addition.
” EMERGENCY INFORMATION Given our thorough maintenance, testing, training, monitoring and safety programs, a pipeline leak is unlikely. In the event of an incident, Enbridge will work with local emergency responders to secure the area and get you the information you need to stay safe.”
***Given today’s headline, that may be a bit of an issue.
“The warning signs
Be observant of unusual sights, sounds and odors along the right of-way and immediately report anything out of the ordinary by calling Enbridge’s 24-hour emergency number for your area.
You might see:
• Liquid on the ground
• Discolored snow or vegetation
• Oily sheen on water surfaces
You might hear:
• A roaring, blowing or hissing sound”
*** You are screwed.
“You might smell:
• An unusual skunk or rotten egg odor”
***You are once again, screwed. You are snorting hydrogen sulfide gas.
“A safe response
1. If you can do so safely, turn off any mechanized equipment. Move as far away from the leak as possible in an upwind direction.”
***provided that upwind is not downhill
“2. Avoid contact with escaping liquids and gases
3. Call 911
***Wait, don’t use the phone! Stand there and yell 911, or not.
4. Call the toll-free, 24-hour Enbridge emergency number for your area: Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Eastern Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Pembina County, North Dakota: 800-858-5253. North Dakota, Montana and Polk County, Minnesota: 888-838-4545 Mississippi: 888-650-8099 5. Follow instructions provided to you by Enbridge and local emergency responders”
***Who once again, are in short supply and we don’t know if we will have a Hazardous Materials Team. Wait! Don’t use your phone! Just stand there and yell and maybe they will hear you, or not!
“What NOT to do in an emergency situation:
• Do not touch any liquid or vapor that may have come from the pipeline
• Do not drive into the area or start your car”
“• Do not light a match”
“• Do not turn on or off anything that may create a spark, including cell phones, telephones, light switches, vehicle alarms and flashlights”
***Good luck in the dark, thru the wetlands….over the thin ice as you go upwind and not downhill, carrying your three kids and towing your two dogs and three cats, and good luck making those emergency phone calls.
“• Do not operate pipeline valves If you do not know the location of the pipeline leak, shelter-in-place and wait for additional instructions for emergency responders or Enbridge:”
***Keep in mind it took 17 hours in Kalamazoo—that gas may do you in and once again, those poor mutual aid emergency responders may have quite a drive to get here.
“• Immediately go indoors and close all windows and outside doors”
***unless you have to run for your life due to spewing oil, loud hissing noise, or lack of breathable air.
“• Turn off appliances or equipment that circulate air, such as exhaust fans, gas fireplaces, gas stoves, heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
***Yeah, like you are thinking about this.
• Turn down furnace thermostats to the minimum setting
• Leave open all inside doors
• Avoid using the telephone, except for emergencies, so that you can be contacted by emergency response personnel”
***Who, once again, may or may not arrive because we don’t have enough of them because we have volunteers who are barely paid and they have to work jobs and they may not be at the fire station.
“• Stay tuned to local radio (battery-operated) for possible information updates”
***But don’t turn it on, it makes a spark. Just sit there look at it and lip sync directions.
“• Even if you see people outside, do not leave until told to do so by local emergency responders”
***Which may arrive sooner or later, probably later, because we don’t have a full time fire department and we are short on volunteers.
“What happens next?”
“• Enbridge and local emergency responders will work as a team to control the situation; public safety will be the top priority ”
****Public safety is such a priority for Enbridge that homes are located well within the 1000 foot distance zone recommendation made by PHMSA
“• Enbridge personnel may shut down or isolate sections of the pipeline”
***Yay, they got one thing right. Hope it doesn’t take 17 hours.
“• Local emergency responders will oversee public safety measures, such as securing the scene, disseminating information, determining and implementing evacuation procedures, and providing medical aid and search and rescue as needed”
*** After reading today’s headline, I’m pretty terrified for folks.
“• Enbridge will work with applicable agencies to remediate any impacts caused by the leak.”
***Yep, like you say, it will be cleaner than it was before….
The fact is, most of Enbridge’s plan relies on our local emergency responders. Most of our local emergency responders are volunteer. Due to the economy, many of our eligible volunteers are working far away. It’s very hard to staff emergency services, especially during the day. It’s hard living your life on call, as well. Things have changed and our economic and social situations don’t allow for able bodied people to be available to staff daytime openings in our emergency units. Never the less, we have 4 dangerous pipelines which could at any time, rupture. Not to mention, bomb trains.
Maybe it’s time that Enbridge starts paying the bill to guarantee our safety. Fund a full time paid fire department in every town along the line and Hazardous Material Teams in each county. It’s the least Enbridge can do since you stuck us with this mess so you can make profit.
Enbridge, you can keep the Ford F150s.
If any readers are inclined to want more information or to join our resistance, yes, RESISTANCE (because what is going on is just plain wrong), ask to join Brave Wisconsin.
JULY 16, 2015
The Dane County Zoning Board fought valiantly to protect the people of Wisconsin, so, what did our legislature do? They undermined local government, figuratively tied them up, gagged them and locked them in the dungeon, so they could not continue to voice their concerns for the health and safety of our people. Yep, that is what your state legislature has done for you Wisconsinites. PLUS, they decided that foreign companies should have more of a right to your American land than you do. Not to mention, they were so lazy that they let Enbridge write the legislation.
What integrity! I’m sure our forefathers who fought the corporate powers of the British Empire, would be proud….not really, the poor guys are rolling over in their graves. I am waiting for legislation which induces me to give quarter to Enbridge employees and contractors, while they are on the road, or when they descend upon us to ‘fix’ the next big catastrophic oil spill. Perhaps next, they will legislate my first born into indentured servitude in their cause.
OK, perhaps I am being ridiculous, and taking this too far in jest, but, this legislation was beyond ridiculous. It is the antithesis of what it means to be an American, unless, we as a nation have just changed so much, that we are fine with this. It seems that people are so busy with working 3 jobs and watching reality TV and fake news, that politics just isn’t in the picture. Maybe they feel there is nothing they can do? Maybe it doesn’t directly affect them now, so who cares? Maybe they think that God doesn’t mind that we trashed the Garden of Eden because he put it here for us to do with as we wished, except for eating from the tree of knowledge, because knowledge is a bad thing?
This all stems from Citizen’s United one of the WORST EVER rulings by the Supreme Court. It’s so bad, the judges who ruled in favor of it should be tried for treason and so should our state legislators, who took advantage of an evacuation for a bomb threat to get drunk before they went in and passed this horrendous budget containing provisions to strip our local control and to assist foreign powers to use eminent domain, among other egregious provisions.
We are asking Dane County to take a stand and revoke Enbridge’s permit for the pumping station. This is a moment in history. It could be a big moment and I intend to be there. It could be a blip, but I guess that depends on all of you. It’s a small step, wading into the swill of what has become our new American form of government since Citizens United. Join us in that first step.
Below From the 350. org Climate Action Team in Madison
URGENT CALL TO ACTION— REVOKE THE PERMIT! As you know, Enbridge lobbyists succeeded in inducing Walker and the Republican legislators to enact a last-minute amendment to bar counties from requiring pipeline companies to obtain environmental cleanup insurance. Such insurance is absolutely essential if Dane County’s farms, property owners, wetlands, and taxpayers are protected in the event of a disastrous tar sands spill by Enbridge.
The County Board has taken the Enbridge appeal off the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting and issued a press release stating that this 11th-hour Enbridge-friendly provision prohibits it from enforcing its precedent-setting insurance requirement.
We disagree. We think the County Board needs to stand up to Enbridge, and we’re calling on you to help them do just that!
Please come to the Dane Co. Board meeting tomorrow night as planned. Although public testimony will not be taken, DO come and be part of a powerful visual show of force by the climate action community. Join us in a demand to revoke the permit!
WHAT: Powerful climate action presence at the Dane County Board meeting
WHERE: City County Building, Rm. 201, 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Madison
WHEN: 7:00 – 8:00 p.m., Thursday, July 16
See you there!
Peter Anderson, for 350 Madison
JULY 6, 2015
For our pre-holiday enjoyment, the GOP dropped yet another bomb on the citizens of Wisconsin. Besides Motion 999’s effort to get rid of our open records tradition, the motion also sports, provisions 51 and 55 placed in the new budget, allowing for ‘business entities’ to use eminent domain on landowners, and to usurp local control. Specifically this relates to the placement of additional pipelines, likely the placement of Line 66 or the Line 61 Twin, which Enbridge announced in its forward looking financial documents. We are aware of surveying being done to enlarge the easement for an unspecified number of future pipelines. The survey indicates this could involve a substantial increase in the size of the corridor. When Line 61 is carrying to capacity (which could be shortly) the total capacity of the pipelines currently in the Enbridge corridor, will amount to 100,800,000 gallons daily, passing through Jefferson and neighboring counties. A spill from Line 61 alone, could spill 1 million gallons in a half an hour. Understand that these lines carry an unprecedented amount of petrochemicals and yet Enbridge is seeking to enlarge this.
Clearly these provisions were written for Enbridge, possibly by Enbridge, as it seeks to turn Jefferson County and our state into a petrochemical superhighway. Enbridge is a limited partnership, and yet they want to bar local governments from requiring them to have liability insurance to insure our communities in the event of a pipeline disaster.
Enbridge has had over 800 reportable spills in the last 10 years. They claim to have adequate funds to restore the landowner’s property in the event of a spill, yet many who have been harmed in the past, such as in the Marshall MI spill, claim not to have been made whole after the disaster. This provision changes the wording of the law from a ‘corporation’ to ANY oil related ‘business entity’ having the right to use eminent domain.
This oil is bound for foreign ports. Enbridge is seeking to get the Alberta tar sands oil and the Bakken oil and gas from North Dakota to ports for sale to countries with industrial economies, such a China and India.
Jefferson County residents stand to suffer greatly if these provisions are made into law. All of the risk of a pipeline disaster is being transferred onto our people and we have nothing to gain. For the rest of us, our local democracy, land, water, rural character and community reputations are at risk. Please call or email your local legislator and let them know this isn’t democracy. It’s a sell out of our American principles to foreign interests.
Follow us on Facebook. Ask to join Brave Wisconsin.
Just another day
JUNE 25, 2015
I have been watching the digs along a beautiful country road, west of Lake Mills, in my neighborhood. If it wasn’t a dead end road, it would be a ‘rustic road’, it’s that pretty. Unfortunately, this road sits on the Enbridge pipeline corridor and is therefore subject to be torn to shreds whenever the multinational giant decides to bring out its earth gnawing equipment. What you see is a temporary road, going uncomfortably close to this home. It makes me wonder how Enbridge plans to fit in that additional easement into which it plans to insert a vague entity called either Line 61 Twin or Line 66. Looks to me like it could go through this home’s kitchen. Given that PHMSA (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) has deemed that homes should be 1000 feet from the center of a corridor that does not have pipelines that carry heavier than air gas, it would seem, this home is far too close for the current line, let alone a new line which is going to be south or west of this corridor. PHMSA has not come down with a safe distance, other than something beyond 1000 feet for lines, such as these, that do carry heavier than air gases, such as benzene and hydrogen sulfide gas.
This dig is simultaneously going on near a heron rookery outside of the small city of Fort Atkinson near the Rock River and Lake Koshkonong.
By the way, Wisconsin Tar Sands Action Coalition, has become Brave Wisconsin on Facebook. You can join us for updates.
Change Will Not Come From Above
JUNE 7, 2015
This was a big weekend. I watched the Wisconsin Democratic party delegates struggle with their choices for a candidate for chairperson of the state party. They have decided on a relatively unknown person and given the options, I would say an unknown is better than a known, in this case.
I’m surprised that the Democratic Party, the party which actually, supposedly BELIEVES in science and in Climate Change, had so much agony in this election.
Jason Rae, who has been under the tutelage of Thad Nation and Sachin Chheda of Nations Consulting, and also of Mike Tate of the Democratic Party, came far closer to winning this election that should have ever happened. For the uninitiated, Nation Consulting represents Michels, the company that lays pipeline for Enbridge. Enbridge got the go ahead from the Doyle administration to lay these lines in 2006, when Thad Nation, Sachin Chedda and Mary Burke were involved in the Doyle administration. Michels is based in Dodge County Wisconsin, but they have a huge reach internationally.
I’m shocked at the angst displayed by many pro-environmental or green delegates in the party. I’m rather new to this tangled web of Democratic pro-pipeline, pro-fossil fuel branch of the party, and I guess, because I am such a neophyte, perhaps I am naive enough to call i how I see it.
I see it like this. There is NO compromise on the issue of climate. Even more so, there is no compromise on the health, safety and welfare of the hundreds of people living on the Enbridge pipeline corridor, yep, even if the trade unions did put that pipeline in. I appreciate that working on that pipeline put bread and butter on the table of many union Democrats. I get it. What THEY seem to be missing, is no matter how much pride they take in their workmanship, no matter how carefully they did their work, their work on those damn pipelines, threatened my life, my children’s lives in a very direct way, and they continue to threaten hundreds of families along that line, when we have a heavier than air gas release. Since PHMSA has decided to come clean and say that there is a minimum distance for proximity of homes to the pipeline and that is roughly 1000 feet, IF there is no heavier than air gas present, I have had the opportunity to ponder the fate of all the folks along that line. Believe me, many of the rural residential folks are not even beyond the 1000 feet required for non-heavier than air gasses. They are simply not safe near those pipelines, any of them, just like I was not safe on the first line to go in that corridor Line 6a.
A good union friend of mine said, “How would you like it if some Joe Blow unskilled non-union pipefitter did that work instead of a highly skilled union worker?” To that I answer, it’s like asking which ax I prefer to lose my head to. Yeah, sure, probably the sharper ax, wielded by a strong arm with a good aim. Really, is this the kind of reasoning, I have to expect from Labor? I was cautioned that if I supported some one from a different party than the Dems, our fate could be left to some one less skilled, so basically, shut up, accept the pipeline put in by unions workers, and above all vote Dem, because, this is as good as it gets for folks like me. Yes, as good as it gets for folks like us? This is just the way the cookie crumbles. This is just the way the machine goes ’round and round.
Not in my world.
You see, folks, Climate Change has made life a lot more simple and complex at the same time. Simple, because we don’t have a lot of time left. Simple because a lot of us are in sacrifice zones brought on by the boom in North American fossil fuels. Complex because big oil will play the card of bomb trains against pipelines as did one Nation’s employee, during a heated conversation last weekend. Yep, Dems playing ‘Divide and Conquer’on Facebook. Complex, because, Progressive voters have been taking scraps from the Democratic Party, the size of which depends, on where on the food chain, we are located. Keystone vetoed, while Enbridge was allowed to silently plow over thousands of miles of farmland, and thousands of people’s lives, and 321 of those miles, are Line 61 and 13, in my neighborhood.
The Democratic Party MUST stop it’s covert climate change denial, via support of Labor involved with the fossil fuel industry. It’s time to stop biting our nails and defaulting to, ‘what could happen if Scott Walker gets elected president?’ as we relinquish more of our dignity. As much as I support unions, and all of our causes since the uprising, Labor does not have enough money to outspend the Koch’s in an election. We had better come up with a better battle plan.
Maybe we just need to vote our consciences. It appears like there was a step in that direction on Saturday. I’m willing to keep an open mind, and see what efforts are directed toward assisting those of us that are in this situation in the first place, because of the Dems, Nation Consulting and Michels.
Self Avowed Energy Opponent?
APRIL 20, 2015
This is an interesting news development. When a forum in a tiny town gets Enbridge to put up a blog, I guess that means something. I guess, we are officially a burr under their saddle. Congratulations to us for participating in an educational forum!
You can read their blog in total at this site, http://blog.enbridge.com/2015/April/Line-61-Wisconsin-fact-not-fear.aspx or just get the juicy parts by reading this. Forward, to the rebuttal, or education of Enbridge.
In the opening paragraph of their article, Enbridge states,
“Conversations over energy, and the part it plays in fueling our quality of life, need to be grounded in fact, not fear. Recently, in Lake Mills, Wis., an “informational session” was held to discuss Enbridge’s Line 61 Upgrade Project. Rather than spurring a healthy dialogue, this public forum – organized by self-avowed energy opponents…..”
My responses are, as the person who organized this event.
Neither I, nor any of the people who assisted with the informational forum in Lake Mills are ‘self avowed energy opponents’. On the contrary, we are highly energetic people and we support healthy, renewable, clean energy, lots of it! It’s out there to be had! If our nation decided to put its ‘energy’ into developing renewable, sustainable energy infrastructure, what a wonderful world it would be. You can hum that last line if you want. Instead, the oil industry and it’s sucklings have been buying up any politician that can be had, to push its agenda, that energy derives from only fossil fuel, and to hell, with future generations who will experience the cost of the use of this energy in the present.
Enbridge further states, “Rather than spurring a healthy dialogue, this public forum – organized by self-avowed energy opponents – allowed members of the audience to share categorically false claims and deliberate misinformation.”
I am, and always will be a supporter of the first amendment, the freedom of speech. Folks that know me, know what lengths I would go to, to protect that right, that some of my own forefathers fought for.
I would never obstruct that right. We gave our audience members a short time to ask questions or make comments. Granted, a few members probably got more wordy than we would have liked, but they expressed their opinions as audience members, not as part of our panel, no differently than if this had been an Enbridge sponsored forum and these same people would have spoken as audience members at an Enbridge event. Is Enbridge is stating that they would have told people with an opinion different than theirs, to sit down and shut up?
I am sure that Enbridge, a Canadian company is culturally aware enough to know we have a free speech tradition in America, especially when it comes to town gatherings. Maybe the person who wrote the above cited blog, just forgot that fact. Maybe Enbridge needs a plain old ‘American Whisperer”, someone with special skills to work with that uniquely American archetype, who values free speech. I find it amusing that, the writer didn’t attack the actual facts of the presentation by the panel, (probably because they are indisputable), but rather points out, that, the panel didn’t tell those people to be silent and sit down, when it was their turn to talk.
It was audience member’s opinions that apparently annoyed Enbridge. Perhaps they didn’t like what they heard, too harsh of a look in the mirror. Perhaps, it illustrates Enbridge’s disdain for the democratic process. (Well, Enbridge, eminent domain kind of rubs US the wrong way, too.) That said, the panel was there to correct any inaccurate information our audience may have have. It was, after all, a question and answer session. If Enbridge didn’t like the answers we gave the audience, well, shucks, they could have come and done it themselves.
Which brings me to point three. Enbridge was invited by email. Becky Haase, of Enbridge chose not to respond to my first email. Two weeks went by. I emailed her again, because we really wanted to hear all that information, that Enbridge so transparently gives us. I got a reply to the second email from Becky Haase, ‘respectfully’ declining to come. I emailed her back (a third contact initiated by me) and asked her if she really didn’t want to come, and advising her that it may not be wise to ignore to the people on the pipeline. She didn’t respond to that, so I assumed she and Enbridge, really did NOT want to come. I figured that they didn’t want to dispel all those ‘myths’ that we supposedly spread about ‘energy’. Instead, the month before, she was busy up in Superior, Wisconsin, in our public schools, propagandizing our children with pipeline tinker toys and blue colored water. I suppose that is more pleasant than facing a room with 200+ residents living on or near the pipeline.
(See Becky’s big adventure hits the front page of Superior newspaper.) http://www.superiortelegram.com/news/schools/3685512-lets-build-pipeline
Enbridge’s blog then defaults to their power point presentation on the ‘myths’ we have about them and the ‘facts’ as seen by Enbridge. Enbridge is entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts. Let’s move onto the ‘meat’ of Enbridge’s blog and the ‘facts’ they want clarified.
From the Enbridge blog in regular type, Italic. (The blue is theirs, and I can’t get rid of it my edit program, it’s like tar sands, it is stuck there.) My responses are in bold, in black.
Claim No. 1: Oil extracted in Canada has the consistency of “peanut butter” and, when diluted by a “toxic cocktail” (i.e. diluent) and placed into pipelines, leads to greater corrosion and, eventually, pipeline spills.
“The Facts: To begin with, it’s completely illogical that pipeline companies would risk their massive investment by agreeing to transport products with significant corrosion risk. Enbridge, like other transporters of energy, enforces strict standards set by U.S. and Canadian governmental regulators on every batch of product that enters our Mainline system. We’ve been moving crude oil from Canada’s oil sands region since 1968, and we’ve never experienced a pipeline failure on our Mainline caused by internal corrosion.”
First of all, it depends on what you call the Mainline. Enbridge likes to change the name of their pipelines like most of us change our underwear, so don’t put too much stock in that statement about the Mainline. I don’t think that they built that pipeline to transport milk, either. It was built to transport hazardous substances, at least I hope it was. It’s either built to withstand hazardous materials or it is too valuable to transport hazardous materials. It’s one or the other, not both.
I had a hunch they have been moving that ‘crude oil from Canada’s tar sands region since 1968’ via Line 6a, in ADDITION to the behemoth Line 61. I’m actually really glad they mentioned this in their blog, because, you see, Line 6a is so hot right now, you can see how fast grass was growing on it in mid March. It looks like a fluorescent green snake against the brown and withered drumlins of my county. Snow was melting on it all winter, as well. It would have been nice to know that fact, given, that for a period of time, I lived within 500 feet of Enbridge’s easement. Oh, but, Enbridge is so transparent. We know all there is to know about them, right? Enbridge is so transparent, that no one in Wisconsin knew that this was tar sands, since 1968, let alone, how much of it there was. Unlike Romeoville, Illinois, in 2010, Dane and Jefferson Counties have been fortunate not to have a spill from this elderly line to tip us off. And just like the public was not informed of the tar sands in 6a, or the ultimate plans for Line 61, we don’t know the ultimate plans for the new Line 66.
In addition, when writing their blog, I guess Enbridge failed to consider over 800 reportable spills that their company has had between 1999 and 2010. Granted, some of those were probably not due specifically to corrosion, but human error or equipment failure, or just a very, very bad, no good day. I guess they don’t count the spill in Marshall MI that went on for 17 hours as being caused by corrosion. I guess the pipe just burped and passed gas, for 17 hours, more or less, while Edmonton, Canada, cranked on the controls as if it was just another bubble in the gut before they found a 6.66 foot ruptured hernia in the thing.
“The NTSB, part of the Transportation Department, said the Enbridge pipeline break “was the result of multiple small corrosion-fatigue cracks that over time grew in size and linked together, creating a gaping breach in the pipe measuring over 80 inches long.”
Claim No. 2: We don’t see any benefit. Oil on the Enbridge system is shipped to the U.S. Gulf Coast, where it is exported to other countries.
The Facts: The crude oil transported by Enbridge serves more than 75 per cent of the refinery market in the Midwest, as well as refineries elsewhere in America and Eastern Canada. The Gulf Coast market is set up to process heavy crude, and refiners in that area prefer reliable, low-cost Canadian oil.
Tax revenue is another clear and demonstrable benefit. In 2014, Enbridge paid $25 million in property tax and $22.95 million in sales-and-use tax to Wisconsin and Illinois combined. This tax revenue is used for schools, transportation, community projects, and other services that help sustain quality of life.
Statistics are often used to bolster arguments that have no real facts to support them. What is 75% of the refinery market in the Midwest and where does that go, in barrels per day, please? 75% of nothing is nothing, so statements like this make no sense. I know that 20% of the tar sands that passes through the US is used in the US. Perhaps that makes things clearer. At least, it begs the question as to where the other 80% goes.
If Canada wants to get this tar sands oil to the Gulf Coast for US consumption, why has it pushed so hard to get pipelines built west through British Columbia or even east, out to the Canadian Atlantic coast? This isn’t about getting ‘North American’ oil to the US. It is about getting the Canadian tar sands out to the coasts, any coast, for export. If you can’t go east or west in your own country, you go south to the US to get this sludge, to a sorry shoreline somewhere, out some continental rear end, by a route that isn’t protesting the placement of pipelines vociferously enough.
Slop some red, white and blue paint on the container, a patriotic slogan, call it ‘North American Crude’, ignore the fact that there is a sovereign border, between Canada and the US, (not to be confused with that southern border that we want a fence across), pretend Canadians are really Americans, well, at least rebrand them as ‘North Americans’, and hope we don’t notice that most of the tar sands oil is bound for distant foreign shores, via the American landscape and ports. Yay, yay! The US is first in natural gas production and soon to be number one in oil, spouts the aging former Roc Retinol talking head on TV.
Yes, we have had some victories (seen as setbacks, by big oil), such as stopping Keystone XL, but according to Ed Struzek at Yale, “These setbacks have led to the revival of an old idea by oil interests and the governments of Alberta and the Northwest Territories: Sending Canadian oil north through a so-called “Arctic Gateway.” One possible pipeline route would run from Alberta, through Saskatchewan and Manitoba, to the port of Churchill along the west coast of Hudson Bay. From there the oil would travel by tanker through the increasingly ice-free Arctic Ocean to the Atlantic or Pacific oceans. Another possible route would follow the Mackenzie River Valley to the hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic Ocean and on to the Pacific.”
This doesn’t sound like oil for the Old Glory. Last time I looked at the globe, the US was south of Canada. It also makes the melting of the Arctic a convenience for Enbridge and big oil.
I guess Enbridge says it best in their OWN WORDS. “In the big picture, that means wholesale changes to North America’s energy transportation grid are critically necessary. It means getting Canadian crude to emerging global markets such as China and India, which are expanding their refinery capacity for heavy oil. It also means delivering heavy and light oil to the right refining markets in North America, to supply them with the feedstock they need.”
In terms of the taxes paid, that comment hardly deserves my efforts at rebuttal. I am hoping that paltry amount helps with the road repairs and other issues that the pipeline causes locally. We won’t get into that sticky insurance issue concerning pollution protection insurance policies, or how much Kalamazoo cost to clean up, at least to this point. Given the money Enbridge makes, it should be paying a far great proportion of its income in taxes to the people who are assuming the risk. Speaking of insurance for disasters, let’s move to the next ‘fact’.
Claim No. 3: Enbridge spent more than $1-billion on the biggest on-land spill, and it still isn’t cleaned up.
The Facts: Five years after the Line 6B incident near Marshall, Michigan, with the support and co-operation of many in the community, we have completed cleanup and remediation efforts, and returned the Kalamazoo River to a healthy, productive state.
This incident was one of our bleakest moments, and since the beginning we’ve taken full responsibility for the Marshall spill. As a company, we learned some very tough lessons – lessons that have, ultimately, made us a safer company. We made a promise to the community to return their river, and we have.
Here is one ‘fact’ I half believe. I do not believe Enbridge wanted a spill into the Kalamazoo River. That spill cost them a lot of money and is going to cost them more. Many scientists do not feel it is clean. Many feel it will never be clean. The elderly pathetic pipeline infrastructure was a disaster waiting to happen. It was the ‘when not if’ moment. They haven’t seemed to have learned much from that episode. Line 6a is running tar sands and it is a ‘senior’ pipe, not to mention the web of aging Enbridge pipelines through the rest of the Great Lakes region.
Oh, I think that “We made a promise…” line was rip off from the BP commercial about the condition of the Gulf. The Kalamazoo is probably about in the same condition as the Gulf, not very good. So no, the Marshall Michigan spill sequelae isn’t over yet. The cost is $1.2 billion and counting. It will be a long time before we know the full extent of the environmental impact of that spill.
Plus, Enbridge continues to stress old pipelines with ever higher loads, to place new pipelines in areas where people live, work and recreate or in environmentally sensitive areas, and it uses the same control center in Edmonton Canada.
The Facts: According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), pipelines are the safest, most efficient method of transporting crude oil.
Over the past four years, we’ve invested more than $4 billion on the most extensive inspection and preventative maintenance program in North American pipeline history. Over the past decade, we’ve transported more than 15 billion barrels of crude oil, with a safe delivery record of 99.9994 per cent. Good enough? No. But we’re working hard for 100-per-cent safety, because we believe all incidents can be prevented. Our Operational Reliability Report details Enbridge’s performance in the efforts we’re making to deliver that energy without incident.
I do believe that Enbridge is trying to make transport of volatile chemicals safe. It will always be dangerous to the environment and to the humans in that environment. It will never be safe, no matter how conscientious Enbridge is. I believe it is dishonest of them to say that all accidents can be prevented. They can’t. Transport would be safer in newer, better constructed pipelines, but it’s too late in the game to be committing to a fossil fuel source that is toxic and damaging to our planet in the here and now, not even counting the next generation. That would require a massive overhaul of the infrastructure, and a massive investment in maintenance of this infrastructure, so massive that is seems silly to devote any energy to that primitive of a goal.
It seems to me, a better investment in our children’s future, is to build this as a renewable energy infrastructure. It’s doable and it’s past due. Let’s just get over the denial. Fossil fuels will NEVER be a safe source of energy, from pipeline to exhaust pipe.
While Enbridge profits from of transporting the dirtiest fossil fuel on the planet, we, the people, must assume the risk for this product for which only 20% stays in our own country and we deserve better than the bottom of the barrel type energy.
Then, there is the matter of what we are doing to our children’s and grandchildren’s future. You can’t put a monetary value on that.
APRIL 3, 2015
Looks like Enbridge is doing it’s best to ‘green’ up Wisconsin, or at least trying to speed up the growing season a bit along their pipeline. These are the same areas that I noted snow melting above the pipeline last winter. I’m not sure what to think other than some of that heating of the pipeline is making it into the surrounding soil and water, where ever this pipeline flows. I found this phenomena at quite a few sites along the pipeline west of my town. As things green up with the rising temperatures, this won’t be visible any more, until Winter, when we will see the snowmelt on the line.
On another note, we had a great turn out for the pipeline education forum in Lake Mills on March 19th. I know, I am overdue for an in depth blog on it, but suffice it to say, we had a solid group of volunteers who hit the pavement to get out flyers, and that added up to attendance of some 230 people. What is most gratifying, other than educating the public, is that we have been able to put our local landowners in contact with each other, and also with those who are living adjacent to the lines, but not owners of easement in what I hope will evolve into an alliance. Now, they can support each other and keep each other informed. We also had some very solid news reporting by local journalists. It was the second magic moment of activism in our fight and I am pleased with that. That said, I still live on edge that this enormous pipeline corridor threatens my town, my county and ultimately, our climate.
It still amazes me that so few people know of the ‘alternative Keystone XL’ and even more so, that the national media just won’t cover this story even after they have been contacted. It makes me go ‘hmmm’.
Industrializing Rural Wisconsin
MARCH 13, 2015
“We shall not, we shall not be moved.
We shall not, we shall not be moved.
Just like a tree that’s standing by the waterside, we shall not be moved….
Here’s the city and country together, we shall not be moved.
Here’s the city and country together, we shall not be moved.
Just like a tree that’s standing by the waterside, we shall not be moved!”
It’s a song I have had the occasion to sing recently, a lot. Although a few of the verses may have been tweaked, the general idea is this, I am not going to budge. I am not thrilled about living near a pipeline, granted, I am not right on top of it like I used to be, but, I am not going anywhere. I have too much invested in my town. Too much of my life has taken place here. I am just too darn old and tired out to start all over. I like it here. I love it here. I am tied here, tethered here. Yes, it is changing and I don’t like what I see, but, at this point, I am just like a tree standing by the water. My roots are sunk here. So the only way I am going to disappear is if I get felled and if this tree falls in the forest, it WILL make a sound.
I am not the only one who feels like this. Pipelines are just one crime perpetrated on the people of Wisconsin. There are others. I live near several CAFOs. The nitrate level in my water is at 22mg/L. If I drank that water, I would be fertile enough to grow potatoes out of my ears. We need our own reverse osmosis system because our water it isn’t fit to drink and if our nitrates are that high, it begs the question of what else is in my water? On top of that folks in my area, are threatened by a pipeline spill. Really corporate America? Isn’t this a bit much?
My dear friend, Hixton Grit, is soon to be surrounded by thousands of acres of frac sand mines, left living on her own 30 acre island. It’s so hard to see what you treasure, the natural beauty of your neighborhood be torn to shreds, and then turned into a dump, so the gas and oil industry can keep grinding along, taking rabid profits. Further industrialization of the rural areas of our state and country do not serve any one well, except Big Oil and Gas.
Want organic food? Where does that come from? It comes from the SMALL farms that frac sand mining is chewing up, from the small farms on the pipeline, and those microfarms in the shadows of the CAFOs. How long do you expect them to hold out against multi-billion dollar corporations if you don’t get into this fight? Sure, you buy their goods but you OWE them more. I’m not saying you need to give them your first born, but consider, without their fight for clean water and land, your first born will be eating food watered by industrial waste and petrochemicals.
Think that you can buy clean bottled water? Ha! It comes from wells situated right in the middle of this rapidly industrializing area that used to be God’s Country. No matter what the label says and how pretty it looks, it’s half clean and getting dirtier by the day, until even that disappears.
Wisconsin! You have no where to hide. America! This is just one state that is being chewed to shreds by huge corporate industrialists. Dozens of states are being fracked for gas and oil and left to rot when the corporate interests are done. Water and land contaminated and residents ill or dead.
No we don’t need GAS and OIL. We need ENERGY. That energy can come from renewable sources if only we turn our efforts in that direction. If you are buying that ‘clean’ natural gas transition fuel story, I have some pipeline -side land I want to sell you.
MARCH 12, 2015
The weather was perfect. In Wisconsin, the first few times it hits the mid 50’s after a long, cold, dark winter, 50 feels like 80. This year the warm up coincided with daylight saving time for added benefit.
My husband and I had to leaflet our township for the upcoming forum and I felt like a dog with my nose out the window, taking in all that fresh Spring air, well, ok, maybe not so good near the chicken CAFOs, but all in all, it was good.
I now have a new found appreciation for the mailman, and a very sore right arm and toes that are cramping. All that pales in comparison to the countryside coming alive. We have our first robin contest going, and I think this is my year to win. I am hoping to soon hear the prehistoric call of the Sandhill Cranes as they return. The last lone ice fisherman sits on a bucket as the ice is turning darker. Rivulets of water run everywhere, and puddles are plentiful, as are muddy boots and paw prints on the floor, but, that is OK. It’s Spring. The silence of winter is broken by the burbling of little creeks.
Driving through the township, on a beautiful day was uplifting. Only when I had to affix a leaflet to a home sitting near those orange makers, did my heart drop into my stomach. It’s those property owners, who don’t own easement land, but are near it with no knowledge or control of the situation, that pain me the most. I wondered if I had ruined their beautiful day by sticking a blue flyer on the outside of their mailbox, or newspaper box, with blue painters tape. Just like jabbing them with the reminder of what lurks beneath the greening ground. Millions of gallons of oil.
Hour after hour, we drove. I tussled with my seat belt as my husband carefully navigated each stop feeling great relief when we finished. Some days you take the good with the bad. My Wisconsin is still beautiful in many ways, but my Wisconsin is going to need to be brave if it wants to remain that way.
MARCH 6, 2015
I am sitting here writing, sweaty palmed. This photo came out at a good time, accompanied by a bomb train derailment. I am hoping we get local people to turn out for the Pipeline 61 Public Forum on March 19th at 6:30 in Lake Mills. As a movement, we are embryonic, no doubt, but everything starts small. That should not discourage us. The matter has grown more urgent, and now is the time to organize. I am inviting folks from bomb train areas. too.
I have a hunch this picture is from not to far away from where our forum is taking place. The DNR confirmed that this is a new easement and that condemnation is likely to be used for those who choose not to sell. Eminent Domain.
Wisconsin never got the chance for a Bold Nebraska moment. We were denied that. We never had a shot, not even a shot at the Ed Show. We are the ugly stepsister of the Keystone XL, locked in the attic, where no one knows about us, the secret, the biggest tar sands pipeline in the world, not to mention the other adjacent pipelines. We were railroaded into these pipelines back when Enbridge bought a huge easement, and stuffed it like a sausage full of as many pipelines as the union iron workers and pipefitters and other construction trades could crank out, providing jobs, jobs, jobs. Too bad that effort didn’t go into building and installing wind turbines and solar.
There is no local control. Dane County is doing its best with the pumping station issue, but how long does a county board hold out against a multinational corporation backed by big oil? It would have been nice if the other 11 townships had done some homework, too, but it is, what it is. There is no state control, the DNR is helpless here, through no fault of its own, and the federal government seems to think that all this extreme energy is a good idea. Good luck contacting any one at the federal level who has a clue.
I am relieved I am no longer in my former home. Looking at this new easement, to the west of the pipeline, it moves the threat even closer to my former home. This line is christened Pipeline 66, and I suspect it is the Line 61 Twin that Enbridge has been touting to investors. That would make this a Bakken line, but with Enbridge, you never know until it’s done. I’m not relieved enough to stop fighting though. It’s time to don the walking shoes again, no glass slipper for me.
Yes, we need to get Bakken off the rails, but I truly hope that people are not so naive to believe that when the pipeline is built that the bomb trains will stop. As long as there is Bakken or any crude to get to market, they will use what they have to get it to refineries. Bomb train people and people of the pipeline need to unite. This time, we can have one of those moments, if we bravely come down out of our hiding space in the attic.
I am of the opinion that the oil industry is unconcerned with bomb train derailments. That is just my opinion. They know it’s dangerous to transport crude by rail, and they do it anyway, that says something to me. The more derailments that occur, the more that the public will clamor for a pipeline. Huge train explosions are frightening. There is a chance of great mortality as in Lac Megantic in Quebec, Canada where 47 people died and half the town was blown off the map. Yes, that can happen here. Bomb trains slice across Wisconsin. Two of my grown kids live in bomb train blast zones. http://explosive-crude-by-rail.org/ in case you want to look up your address.
I met a very nice young man at one of my speaking engagements last week. His town is on both the pipeline and a bomb train route. I thought about his situation. Dilbit inside the pipe flows at 3 to 5 miles per hour, that is a lot faster than I run these days but at least a sprint is possible, although I suspect it would be gushing out at a lot higher speed and those toxic gases could cause a bit of a problem with my aerobic capacity. A blast is instantaneous. I guess if I was in his shoes, I would choose the pipeline over the bomb train, except for a few confounding facts. Dilbit is just as explosive as Bakken. So, the new Line 66, will put two highly flammable pipelines next to each other. While trains derail and explode more often than pipelines, a pipeline leak has the ability to wipe a town off the map, too. An explosion of either the Dilbit or Bakken pipelines would certainly ignite all of the lines, with catastrophic results many times greater than a bomb train More likely, it will be a non-explosive spill, with all the permanent environmental and health issues that those bring. In Marshall Michigan 150 people lost their homes to a spill, in Mayflower, 22 homes were unfit to live in. This isn’t a choice this young man should have to make. This isn’t a choice any one should have to make and certainly we can’t sacrifice one group of citizens for another.
The lives of those along bomb train routes are just as valuable as those along the pipeline. If we divide, we are conquered, and my fear is that there is no guarantee that a pipeline will end the bomb train routes. I doubt that they will write that clause into their contract for the pipeline.
If we do not join together and work to stop the use of extreme energy, we are part of the problem. We may not have had a chance to be a Bold Nebraska, but we can be a Brave Wisconsin.
Locals Can Learn About the Enbridge Pipeline Corridor
FEBRUARY 26, 2015
PIPELINE 61 EDUCATIONAL FORUM FOR CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN WISCONSIN
WISCONSIN TAR SANDS ACTION COALITION
AND THE WISCONSIN SAFE ENERGY ALLIANCE
(SIERRA CLUB, 350.ORG, NO KXL AND OTHERS)
THURSDAY, MARCH 19TH
6:30 TO 8:30PM
LAKE MILLS, CITY HALL
200 WATER STREET
LAKE MILLS, WI
LEARN ABOUT THE MULTI-PIPELINE PETROCHEMICAL HIGHWAY IN YOUR BACKYARD! MUCH BIGGER THAN KEYSTONE XL, SLICING THROUGH ADAMS, WOOD, MARQUETTE, COLUMBIA, DANE, JEFFERSON AND ROCK COUNTIES IN CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN WISCONSIN. EAST OF MADISON, AND MARSHALL, LOCATED JUST WEST OF WATERLOO, LAKE MILLS, JEFFERSON AND FORT ATKINSON SPANNING THE ENTIRE STATE FROM SUPERIOR TO DELAVAN. FOUR PIPELINES ARE IN, LINE 61 IS TO BE EXPANDED TO 1.2 MILLION BARRELS PER DAY, AND A FIFTH ONE, THE LINE 61 TWIN, IS BEING PROPOSED IN ENBRIDGE FORWARD LOOKING LITERATURE! BOMB TRAINS WILL ALSO BE ADDRESSED. A CHOICE BETWEEN A BOMB TRAIN AND A PIPELINE IS NOT A CHOICE.
PANEL OF EXPERTS FOLLOWED BY QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION.
QUESTIONS? CONTACT email@example.com, WISCONSIN TAR SANDS ACTION COALITION ON FACEBOOK.
My Relationship With the Pipeline
FEBRUARY 24, 2015
I moved to Lake Mills, Wisconsin, in 1979. My relationship to the ‘pipeline’ goes way back. It goes back to 1986, when my family purchased what we thought would be our ‘forever’ home, on a stretch of country road, west of Lake Mills. We lived near what we thought was a utility pipeline. There was one other house between our house and the easement. Our lots were about 150 feet wide each. Beyond my neighbor’s 150 lot, maybe another 200 feet, lay the pipeline. Back then, it was kind of cool, because my kids would sled down the easement in the Winter. It was the only place, that there were no trees back then. The woods look scruffy now, former beauty faded. Perhaps, it is because the new Pipeline 61 altered something. It’s so hot it melts the snow in Winter. Perhaps, it is just my perspective. I drive by my former home, and part of me wishes we had never moved, and another part of me feels empty, hollow relief, that we did. The area west of Lake Mills has pastoral beauty. It has wooded drumlins, a large wildlife area, a large natural lake, vineyards, horse farms, assorted rural residences, wetlands, and quiet roads perfect for bicycling. Back then, I did a lot of bicycling. The Glacial Drumlin bike trail is bisected by the pipelines, those orange poles are not there for you to lock your bike.
We left the ‘forever’ home in 1993 and had a few more bumps around, before we landed back in Lake Mills, in October of 2006. We were moving during the week, that the DNR conducted the public meeting regarding Line 61. At that time, I didn’t know yet, that another pipeline had been added in 1998, Line 14. In the midst of moving, I didn’t stop to consider what was happening, and I had no idea, it pertained to my town. There was nothing much of it in the news.
In May of 2014, I received an email from a friend in the Sierra Club regarding a ‘tar sands pipeline’ in Jefferson County, being expanded. The Jefferson County Board was considering passing a resolution to demand that the State of Wisconsin do a full Environmental Impact Statement. When Line 61 and 13 were put in, an Environmental Assessment was done, which is an environmental light study which addressed the construction phase of the pipeline and not the contents.
Apparently, the DNR back then felt it unnecessary to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement on what is now the world’s largest tar sands oil pipeline, a line slated to carry 1.2 million barrels (42 gallons to a barrel) of tar sands dilbit. This in addition to the other 3 pipelines, already in operation in this corridor.
I thought at the time, that maybe if the counties demanded that a full EIS be done, that maybe, the gears of the machine would stop. I had faith that perhaps a local government did indeed have some control over what went through its lands, and after all, Enbridge is a foreign company.
We had a magic moment of activism when Enbridge attempted their Georgia Style meeting in Jefferson in June 2014. Georgia Style meetings are a meeting format, where the presenter sets up a few tables and displays, with a speaker at each, to give a little talk on each subject, and the person is shuffled through their gauntlet, getting spit out at the door fully propagandized. This serves the presenter’s purpose well. It’s a highly controlled environment. It doesn’t serve the community well. It prevents discussions. It prevents others from hearing questions and answers. It allows the presenter to manipulate the conversation, and prevent networking of the public.
When I arrived and discovered that Enbridge was formatting in this manner, I spoke with a few friends at the meeting and we went for the chair rack, and in no time the room caught on, and we all had seats. We were informed by Enbridge that we had 15 minutes to sit and ask questions, and then we needed to move along. Two hours later, we left and took to organizing. We are still organizing, and there is frustration, that the national media, has not seemed to have recognized our dire plot, here in the land of sky blue waters, Wisconsin. We are fighting a much fiercer dragon than Keystone XL. Our dragon has a nest underground, and is multiplying, with the potential to breathe fire and secrete ooze upon the towns, nestled next to its steely body.
It’s been a long time since then, at least it feels like a long time. I did not set out looking for a cause. A cause found me. I have always loved my full natural surroundings, and been a member, off and on, of several prominent environmental groups, but, other than educating my children, I didn’t do much. I am a person who lived on the pipeline, before it was THE PIPELINE, (even though back then the little known 6a was almost as big as Keystone.) I am a person who lives within range of the environmental impact of the pipeline, perhaps with my water, perhaps with the smell, perhaps with economic impact, but, I no longer live on top of it, like many of my neighbors. I could probably bow out of this situation, but I can’t in good conscience. I am a person with a sense of community and responsibility.
I wonder, who now, lives in my former home, upon the pipeline. I wonder, does she put her children to bed, not knowing what is flowing next door, like I once did? I wonder, what would she do, if that line would burst, spill, or worse yet, gas would leak? I wonder about my friends living in a subdivision between a quarter of a mile and a half mile from this line. Hundreds of homes, hundreds of families, downwind and downhill. I realize, my town, is only one of scores on the pipeline corridor.
But, I can’t take any ‘joy’ in this activism. I feel no sense of pride. I wish the pipeline would just go away. I know I am one person, in a group of activists, facing a multinational machine, in league, with the biggest industry on earth, the extractive industry. Some days, I feel small, insignificant and frustrated, and other days, I feel the tremendous responsibility and anxiety, of a voice being recognized, above the chorus. I am savvy enough to know, there is a price to pay for that recognition.
I also wonder if some people will want to metaphorically kill the messenger. The louder I speak, perhaps the worse they feel about their situation. How would I feel? Would I want me, to go away, to just shut up? How loud and how often do I beat this drum? What cadence to I maintain? I am sensitive to how my neighbors and community feels, a quality, that in my opinion is sorely lacking in some environmental circles. While they have greater volume, it concerns me, are we singing the same song?
I don’t have the comfort that a typical ‘activist’ has. I am watching my local environment descend into what could be, at any second, hell. I don’t get a lot of satisfaction talking about it, but someone has to, or this stays a dirty little secret. I don’t have any compulsion to become known for my activism. I am not pursuing a legacy. I would rather it wasn’t necessary. I may lose friends, and the comfort of my relative anonymity in my community. My community knows me, as me, not the me with a cause attached to me. I fear becoming only a cause, and being seen only in the light of that cause. I have in the past, been THAT person who walks into the town diner, and all conversation ceases. It doesn’t feel good. It’s isolating and uncomfortable and it extends to your children. No matter if you are morally justified, in a small town environment, you just never know if you will end up being Jane Kleeb or Joan of Arc.
I think a lot about strategy and tactics. I don’t feel like having a rally. Some days, I want to throw up.
I can’t save my community from this pipeline. It’s in. Now, what to do? The President can’t veto this, hell, it’s a multinational corporation, that answers to an ever diminishing group of government officials at the Federal level. I have to throw myself into something, other than an early grave. It has to be something productive, and useful. The pursuit and dissemination of knowledge is a pretty sure course. So, I will track Enbridge digs, photograph them and use them to teach. I will read the news every morning and share related news on Facebook. I will do what I can.
What I can do, is put my efforts into educating all of the people in the counties along this pipeline, so they are prepared for the inevitable spill. It’s something I have the capacity to do. It beats doing nothing, and it beats another rally right now. Maybe someday we can rally again, but we have work to do now, teaching.
Maybe we can stop the new Enbridge 61Twin Line, the huge Bakken pipeline, next time Enbridge comes calling.
I sure hope so, because we really don’t need anything any more incendiary around here.
Hello and Welcome to Pipeline Peril
FEBRUARY 23, 2015
Hello and welcome to my blog, Pipeline Peril. We are a cousin of the Facebook group, Wisconsin Tar Sands Action Coalition. This blog will document life near Enbridge’s Mainline Corridor, which slices Wisconsin in half, with 4 pipelines carrying close to 2 million barrels (42 gallons to a barrel) of crude oil, including tar sands and diluent. I am hoping this blog will reach those less inclined to perennially socialize on Facebook, as much as I love Facebook, I know we are not reaching a large audience. From 1986 to 1993, I lived right along side a ‘gas’ line. I and my neighbors all thought it was a typical utility line running natural gas from town to town. Wrong. I had no idea that I was putting my young children to bed, 500 feet from a pipeline almost as big as the proposed Keystone XL, Enbridge’s Line 6a. Line 6a is a 34 inch line, with a capacity of 670,000 barrels per day. In 1998, an additional line was put into that same easement, Line 14 carrying 350,000 barrels of crude per day. In 2006, without a full Environmental Impact Statement, Enbridge inserted two more lines into the easement, a 20 inch northbound return diluent line, Line 13 and the behemoth Line 61, which started out with a flow of 400,000 barrels per day of Alberta Tar Sands, or Dilbit, bitumen and diluent. The same stuff that spilled in Marshall Michigan, contaminating 35 miles of the Kalamazoo River. One public meeting was held in Southern Wisconsin regarding this line, and it was held a distance away from the more populated areas along this line. Enbridge has increased the flow to 560,000 barrels per day. Enbridge seeks to raise this flow to 1.2 million barrels per day by adding 12 pumping stations. Eleven of those are built, one holdout is the Waterloo Station, which is proposed to be located in Dane County. Dane county is doing due diligence and fully researching the impact of a spill in northeastern Dane. I’m concerned. I live in Jefferson County which is an agricultural county bisected by this line. In the area where I live, just west of my town, this line silently slinks underground, and most people have no clue it is there. You can see where it is in Winter, as the snow melts along the line. Tar Sands need to be heated to transport them, but other than that, all that denotes its presence are the orange markers, frequent ‘integrity digs’ and helicopter flyovers. This blog will give folks a place to keep up with my life on the Pipeline and all the news regarding the Mainline Corridor, LInes 13, 14, 6a and 61 and the yet unannounced new addition which appears in Enbridge’s forward looking statements.
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