Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Oil Pipeline Damages Wisconsin Wetlands: A Cause For Deep Concern

The construction of the already-controversial pipeline carrying Canadian tar sand crude oil from Superior to St. Louis has led to numerous instances of damage to Wisconsin wetlands, and this is very early in the process.

This is a disturbing development, not only because damaged wetlands take a long time, if ever, to come back to health (and don't believe everything you read about "remediation," or worse, "artificial wetlands" to replace wetlands allowed to be filled), but because the $2.1 billion project has a long way to go.

Not to mention the probability of wetlands damage - - whether accidental or allowed - - that is sure to accompany Murphy Oil's likely plan to ramp up tar sand oil refining at its Superior refinery from 35,000 barrels daily to 235,000.

Wisconsin is going to need assertive management, oversight and regulation by its Department of Natural Resources to save imperiled wetlands from this expanding oil refining and piping binge.

Wisconsin environmental organizations have been raising alarms and bird-dogging Enbridge since the pipeline route was approved.

Wisconsin Wetlands Association has taken the lead. You can check out the fine work of this group, here.

The DNR's enforcement actions along the pipeline route are a good sign that it is keeping an eye on things, but the number of violations suggest that the route is too long and complex for inspections that are preventative in nature.

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