QUERY #1 : Considering the stated goal of creating jobs and the concern of appeasing job creators, does Congress have a role in ensuring that the companies have adequate insurance and safety maintenance/review plans ?
QUERY #2 : Did anyone see a press release or comment from Raymond Cravaack (R-MN-08) after the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a strong series of recommendations to Enbridge Ltd. in a report about the probable cause of a large 2010 oil spill in Michigan ?
BACKGROUND : Enbridge failed to detect the rupture of a pipeline for 17 hours after it happened during a scheduled shutdown (a major accident that should have taken a total of 13 minutes to identify and contain according to Enbridge’s own manuals.)
— A 2010 spill, Enbridge reported release estimate of 20,082 barrels
(843,444 gallons) of crude oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River and a tributary creek.
— 24 violations of pipeline regulations
— Enbridge Ltd $3.7-million civil penalty is the proposed fines issued by Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration would be the largest in the organization’s history.
— Enbridge has estimated its cleanup costs for the spill at about $700 million.
Enbridge Energy Partners is a name affected Minnesotans know … after all, there have been at least eleven reported spills in Minnesota since 2002 from Enbridge alone, including a pipeline explosion near Clearbrook in 2007 that killed two people and for which the company’s fines totaled $2.4 million. Six Enbridge trunk pipelines span the state of Minnesota, with a further three joining them at a merger point near Clearbrook, MN.
If you do not live in the affected areas or know people involved, you are probably oblivious to Enbridge … but the Congressman should.
Congressman Cravaack sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee which have oversight responsibilities.
Last spring, Enbridge announced a plan to reverse the direction of a Trailbreaker pipeline called line 9, so that it could carry crude east rather than west sending possibly 150,000 barrels a day of tar sands oil across several Great Lakes and New England states to Portland, Maine, for transfer by ship to refineries or for export.
Another proposal is its Northern Gateway Project, which Enbridge has just launched a multi-million dollar campaign to convince British Columbians to support a Chinese funded pipeline that would deliver raw Alberta bitumen to the port of Kitimat where it would be loaded on supertankers bound for refineries largely owned by the Communist Party of China for sale in heavily price subsidized gasoline markets.
Consider that all this activity and this comment from Robyn Allan, former CEO of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia :
“There is no reason to believe Enbridge would be directly responsible for the cost of any spill based on the limited partnership structure. This structure allows profits to flow to Enbridge, but from what I have seen in the documents, not spill liabilities.”
In the event of another catastrophic event exists as a stand-alone company that might have to shut down due to multi-billion clean-up costs, a scenario that puts the taxpayer at severe risk — environmentally as well as financially.
In addition there are concerns for current businesses … for example, many farmers whose land is affected by these pipelines.
Harry Coppernoll Sr. and Jr. are two such land owners.
“It’s all business,” Coppernoll Jr. said . “If we don’t make money off the crops, we don’t make enough to live.”
But the biggest problem for the farmers is what a pipeline does to their land: it disrupts about 50 feet on either side of the pipeline, making the land more difficult to farm.
For the Coppernolls, this would be the fifth pipeline on their farm, which the family has owned since 1973. “There is still a poor crop growing where they’ve been,” Coppernoll Sr. said of where the other pipelines. “Thirty-some years later they’re still not productive as the rest of the field.”
The proposed pipeline would also cross the farm’s current irrigation line. Coppernoll Jr. said they would have to replace the irrigation tiles that cross where the pipeline is proposed. “This is our best ground,” Coppernoll Sr. said.
No wonder that Nebraska farmers opposed Keystone.
That’s a question that Americans should be concerned about when we hear Mitt Romney Day One agenda includes approving a Presidential Permit for the northern portion of Keystone XL Pipeline project allowing TransCanada to move its products through the US for export — or hear Representative Cravaack that Keystone is Good — Should Americans be held liable for the actions of Canadian companies without demanding that they have appropriate plans for spills and the financial insurance to ensure we are not stuck with the bill?
Advocating for jobs is the easy part … but a responsible Congressman would make sure that the taxpayers, residents and other businesses will not be impacted.