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Another Tar Sands Pipeline to Come to Oklahoma

cushingThere has been a lot of focus on the Keystone XL, which is currently under construction in Oklahoma but there is another pipeline that will possibly carry Tar Sands oil to Oklahoma looking for approval. Enbridge’s proposed Flanagan South pipeline would run from the Chicago area, through Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas and end up connecting at the oil hub in Cushing, OK. Like the Keystone XL it would connect to existing pipelines.

Enbridge says on their website that construction is expected to begin mid-2013 and be complete by mid-2014. Enbridge also states that,

“Enbridge has been committed to safe and reliable operation of our pipelines for more than 60 years; this same commitment will be inherent in the design, installation, and operation of this pipeline.”

However, in 2010 Enbridge had a pipeline spill in Michigan’s Kalamazoo County. As of this May, Enbridge has estimated that they have recovered 1.15 million gallons of oil from the Kalamazoo River. The EPA estimates about 180,000 gallons of oil (plus or minus 100,000 gallons) remain in the river bottom sediment.

Like with the southern route of the Keystone XL, the part that goes through Oklahoma, the Flanagan South doesn’t cross an international border. This means it doesn’t require State Department approval. Enbridge is trying to use a regulatory shortcut known as Nationwide Permit 12 to prevent the kind of protest happening with the Keystone XL, by getting the pipeline in the ground before the opposition starts.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers explains what a Nationwide Permit 12 is,

“Under Section 404(e) of the Clean Water Act, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) can issue general permits to authorize activities that have minimal individual and cumulative adverse environmental effects. General permits can be issued for a period of no more than five years. A nationwide permit is a general permit that authorizes activities across the country, unless a district or division commander revokes the nationwide permit in a state or other geographic region. The nationwide permits authorize approximately 40,000 reported activities per year, as well as approximately 30,000 activities that do not require reporting to USACE districts. There are currently 49 nationwide permits, and they authorize a wide variety of activities such as mooring buoys, residential developments, utility lines, road crossings, mining activities, wetland and stream restoration activities, and commercial shellfish aquaculture activities.”

After the Kalamazoo spill, one may ask if another pipeline will have “minimal environmental effects.” The Kalamazoo River spill had more than a minimal environmental effect.

Enbridge already has a pipeline in Oklahoma. The pipeline goes through Oologah Lake, a source of drinking water for Tulsa. The pipeline is 64 years old. Enbridge was inspecting the pipeline last month. No anomalies were found during this inspection but with the pipeline being this old and carrying around 160,000 to  200,000 gallons of oil a day, this is a concern for many, as is a new pipeline.

Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page

Photo Credit- FreeWine

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Lisa Sharp is the founder of Green Oklahoma. She is passionate about the environment and improving Oklahoma for future generations. She also writes on her personal blog Retro Housewife Goes Green.

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  1. The only truly safe pipeline is no pipeline. It’s disturbing when an energy company talks about their safe construction and how their actions won’t hurt the community or environment. It’s not true. I hope that the pipeline in OK gets blocked!

  2. JOE KNOWS says:

    Enbridge has +/- 45,000 miles of pipe in the ground. One leak and you want to halt all future updates and progress? An airplane belly flopped in CA last week. Should we close all the airports?

    • Enbridge has had more than one leak. In May they even had a spill in Oklahoma. The Kalamazoo spill was just one of the worst. The biggest concern is the lack of regulations. When airplanes crash changes in regulations are often made, this rarely is the case with oil spills.

  3. Pipelines are not “progress”. Pipelines are an inexpensive means of transporting filthy crude from point A to point B. Pipelines do nothing to reduce consumer costs and plenty to fatten the already fat wallets of oil companies. Progress would be moving away from oil and toward sustainable, non-toxic energy and fuel solutions.

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