Wisconsin Dane County Zoning Board Demands Spill Insurance for Proposed Tar Sands Pipeline

Posted May 27, 2015

MP3 Interview with Rebecca Craven, program director with Pipeline Safety Trust, conducted by Melinda Tuhus


Pipeline company Enbridge was responsible for the 2010 spill of diluted tar sands bitumen into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River that has thus far cost more than one billion dollars to clean up, although the job isn’t yet finished. Now the company wants to double the amount of tar sands bitumen it sends through its existing pipeline #61 across Wisconsin so that it would carry 1.2 million barrels of the highly polluting fossil fuel a day – more than the proposed capacity of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

But Wisconsin’s Dane County Zoning and Land Regulation Committee is calling for the company to pay an additional $25 million in insurance before it can build a pump station to move the higher volume of tar sands. Enbridge is fighting that requirement, arguing that the county committee overstepped its bounds and crossed into the jurisdiction of federal pipeline regulators by trying to regulate safety operations. While the company also maintains the added insurance is unnecessary as Enbridge would be liable for any future cleanup, the debate has effectively delayed the plan to increase the pipeline’s capacity.

Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus spoke with Rebecca Craven, program director of the non-profit Pipeline Safety Trust based in Bellingham, Washington, a group founded after a 1999 gas pipeline explosion in that community that killed three people. Here she describes what options Dane county has regarding pipeline regulation in Wisconsin and how Enbridge is pushing back.

For more information, visit Pipeline Safety Trust at pstrust.org.

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