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Tar sands Oil Exempt from Regulations.

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  • J. Jonik
    As if it wasn t bad enough.... Did we know that Tar Sands Oil (as in XL Pipeline, and others) is exempt from cleanup costs, etc?    Law says it s not
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 3, 2013
      As if it wasn't bad enough....
      Did we know that Tar Sands Oil (as in XL Pipeline, and others) is exempt from cleanup costs, etc?    "Law" says it's not "conventional", so...it's off the hook.  We have to pay for clean ups in spills.

      From Action Greens email list....


      Toxic and Tax Exempt


      Toxic and tax exempt: How tar sands spills from Michigan to Arkansas
      cost us all.

      As the Obama Administration continues to ponder a decision on the
      Keystone XL pipeline, TransCanada has been assuring everyone of it's
      safety. "Safety of the public and the environment is a top priority
      for TransCanada" their slick
      <http://www.transcanada.com/pipeline-safety.html>website reads. Any
      spill is deemed "unlikely".

      Hardly. Last year, there were 364 spills from pipelines that released
      barrels of oil and refined products. In 2010 in Marshall, Michigan an
      Enbridge pipeline sent <http://www.epa.gov/enbridgespill/>819,000
      gallons of toxic tar sands crude into the town's creek just 80 river
      miles from Lake Michigan. Now in Mayflower, Arkansas, 22 homes have
      this week as Exxon prepares to attempt to clean 10,000 barrels of
      this same dirty tar sands crude from neighborhoods.

      The experiences of people of Marshall, Michigan may shed light on
      what the citizens of Mayflower, Arkansas may now be in for.

      On July 26th 2010, at 7:30 a.m., Marshall resident Susan Connolly
      dropped off her children at daycare. That Michigan morning there was
      a strong smell in the air, making it hard to breathe. By the time she
      picked up her children just a few hours later, the symptoms had started.

      That night her son vomited. The week following, her daughter had a
      rash, as did almost all the children at the daycare. The other
      children also reported cases of vomiting, upset stomach, shortness of
      breath, lethargy, headaches, rash, irritation with the eyes, sore
      throat, and cough. Meanwhile, Connolly and her husband experienced
      migraines, eye irritation, sore throat, nausea, and cough. Just six
      days later, their dog came in from the yard suffering from continuous
      vomiting and diarrhea.

      They quickly learned that this was all related to a broken Enbridge
      pipe, spilling bitumen ooze into the water just  6/10ths of a mile
      from their children's day care and just two miles from their home.
      Bitumen is a thick, sticky, black semi-solid form of
      <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroleum>petroleum. It is transported
      from Alberta Canada as diluted bitumen (dilbit) on its way to
      refineries in the U.S.

      "I'm a parent and I see the children and the staff of this center who
      have been affected by this spill," says Connolly, "Three months after
      the spill, four parents withdrew six children from the center due to
      their concern of their short-term health effects of their children.
      They were concerned about the smell, air quality, and potential
      long-term effects. An employee who has been with the child care
      center since it opened, who helped them build it from the ground up,
      left the center because she has been sick since the day of the spill."

      Their concern is understandable. The EPA established that there were
      15 parts per billion of benzene in the atmosphere in the region of
      the spill, which is roughly three times the standard established as
      safe for human exposure.

      Connolly reports that "the argument made by Enbridge is: you cannot
      prove that the spill may be the cause. Well, my response as a parent
      is you can't prove that it's not. ... I'm not anti-pipeline, but I am
      an advocate for safety. You need to know the health impacts. There
      will be another spill, it's not an if, it's a when."

      Connolly's story highlights the clear effects of the revolving door
      of money from politicians and fossil fuel companies keeping the
      safety standards and oversight low. In 2009 and 2010 fossil fuel
      companies like Enbridge spent $25.8 million lobbying Congress and in
      return they received subsidies and tax loopholes worth $20.5 billion.
      That's a 5800% return on political investment; about $59 in return
      for each dollar they spend lobbying.

      Connolly sees the influence fossil fuel companies have on Washington,
      DC firsthand. She asks, "Who do you think [government officials] are
      looking out for more? Corporations or the people?"

      Companies that transport oil are required to pay into the Oil Spill
      Liability Trust Fund, giving the government a pot of money for
      immediate spill responses. The Enbridge pipeline in Michigan and the
      Exxon pipeline in Arkansas, however, are exempt because these
      pipelines are not considered to be carrying "conventional oil",
      despite the fact bitumen spills are more expensive and more dangerous.

      In a January 2011 memorandum, the IRS determined that to generate
      revenues for the oil spill trust fund, Congress only intended to tax
      conventional crude, and not tar sands or other unconventional oils.
      exemption remains to this day, even though the United States moves
      billions of gallons of tar sands crude through its pipeline system
      every year. The trust fund is liable for tar sands oil spill cleanups
      without collecting any revenue from tar sands transport. If the fund
      goes broke, the American taxpayer foots the cleanup bill.

      When Connolly learned that Enbridge is not required to pay into the
      Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, she was shocked. "I can't believe
      that," she said, "it's unconscionable, disgusting. I can't believe
      it's not being brought up. ... [Companies] get enough tax loopholes;
      they can pay into the system and should not make taxpayers pay for
      their cleanup."

      Connolly holds that the government needs to hold companies like
      Enbridge and Exxon accountable. She believes her government
      representatives should advocate for companies to pay into the Oil
      Spill Liability Fund and keep discussing the issue. "They're making a
      ton of money and they're calling the shots, but who do they answer
      to? We're asking the government to come and look at the impact, but
      no one comes out. No one looks; no one sees. They think it's all cleaned up."

      Connolly has just one piece of advice for politicians and Enbridge
      CEO Al Monaco: "Come back to Michigan; meet with the residents who
      have concerns and questions. Don't come just for PR or to hand out
      checks. Make the time to talk to those involved in pipeline and
      cleanup. I'm not trying to bash anyone, but we should all learn from
      it and be better prepared. ... a spill like this will happen again."

      And indeed it has.

      -Erin O'Sullivan

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