The Journal Sentinel editorially endorses capacity expansion of Enbridge pipeline operations in Wisconsin - - but not if Wisconsin has to suffer the kind of Enbridge facility pollution that happened in Michigan.
State regulators should make sure the improvements meet state requirements and don't put the state at greater hazard of a spill such as occurred in an Enbridge pipeline in Michigan nearly two years ago. That's paramount; Michigan is still suffering from that mess.Well, fine - - but why not mention the documented Enbridge pipeline leakage incidents and legal settlement payments covering hundreds of permit violations in Wisconsin?
Along the very line that would get more capacity if the project proceeds?
On January 3, 2007, an Enbridge Energy pipeline ruptured along the Superior to Delavan right-of-way, spilling over 52,000 gallons of crude oil into the environment.And this:
About a month later, and further north, the pipeline again spills around 125,000 gallons (2,976 barrels) after a construction crew breaks the line.And why not mention the full extent of Enbridge's record nationally so the reader gets the bigger picture and can assess the wisdom of the editorial position?
Using data from Enbridge‘s own reports, the Polaris Institute calculated that 804 spills occurred on Enbridge pipelines between 1999 and 2010. These spills released approximately 168,645 barrels (26,812.4 m3) of hydrocarbons into the environment.Wisconsin is referenced in the annotated, footnoted, documented (Canadian) Polaris study:
According to Erin O‘Brien, Wetland Policy Director of the Wisconsin Wetlands Association, who has observed Enbridge‘s pipeline construction process in Wisconsin, Enbridge projects have:
―Involved massive amounts of soil disturbance (trench-digging), excavation through hundreds of miles of wetlands, hundreds of stream crossings, clear- cutting of forests, and more. Trees are not allowed to regenerate above the pipes, meaning many forested areas, including wooded wetlands, are permanently stripped of forest cover and habitat....Pipeline construction is inherently messy and compliance with environmental permit conditions is often poor.‖102...
Simultaneously, Enbridge has also faced challenges by Wisconsin community and watershed conservation alliances. Researchers, independent environmental monitors and community members have expressed concerns with Enbridge‘s excessive number of violations and spills during the course of the construction phases of the Southern Lights and Southern Access Pipelines. The Southern Lights pipeline will ship diluents Northward to the tar sands while the Southern Access pipeline will be bringing tar sands oil Southward.
The pipeline construction process has included the dredging of 361 wetland acres, to a depth of 6.5 feet, clearing vegetation from 905 acres of wetlands and removing substantial areas of stream bank vegetation along 262 Wisconsin rivers.150
From 2007- 2008, the Wisconsin Wetlands Association, a civil society organization, reviewed the violations on a daily basis, reporting that, ―Enbridge‘s environmental compliance has been poor, particularly early in the construction cycle...[These] poor pipeline construction management practices degrade wetland quality and pollute rivers and streams.
‖151 Requests by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources included letters calling on Enbridge to cease construction activities pending resolution of their environmental oversights, and retraining of crews. A few of the many critical incidences include:
60 violations from July 30-September 9th, 2007 related to erosion control, wetland restoration, land clearing, trenching, dewaters, and lack of compliance with ―Best Management Practices‖;
Over 29, 000 gallons of oil were spilled in Clark County, WI on January 2nd, 2007 when a pipeline ruptured, contaminating farmers‘ fields;
Over 150,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into a farm field and seeped into the groundwater table in Rusk County, WI on February 2nd when Enbridge Construction crews struck an existing pipeline.152
In May 2008, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources referred the case of Enbridge Energy Partners‘ repeated failure to comply with its wetland and waterway to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
In January 2009, Enbridge Energy Partners paid the State of Wisconsin $1.1 million (USD) to settle claims under Wisconsin‘s waterway and wetland protection and storm water control laws.153
The case documented more than 500 violations of the company‘s permits, including 282 wetland violations (soil mixing, rutting, unauthorized clearing, improper restoration), and 176 land disturbance and
149 Indigenous Environmental Network Website, www.ienearth.org/tarsandscampaign_stopenbridgeoilpipeline.html 150 Wisconsin Wetlands Association, Update (September 2007) www.wisconsinwetlands.org/enbridge.htm 151 Wisconsin Wetlands Association, Issue Summary (November 8 2006) www.wisconsinwetlands.org/enbridge.htm 152 Wisconsin Wetlands Association, Updates (2007) www.wisconsinwetlands.org/enbridge.htmerosion control violations near navigable waters and wetlands.154 This settlement is one of the largest in the history of the Wisconsin DOJ Environmental Unit.155
153 Wisconsin Department of Justice www.doj.state.wi.us/absolutenm/templates/template_share.asp?articleid=24&zoneid=3