Drill and Spill

Transporting oil via pipelines is extremely risky. Ruptures and leaks are not uncommon, and these often cause serious environmental issues. But despite this fact, the U.S. continues to promote its operation. Now, another incident has shown why this method of transport (and form of energy generation) should be a thing of the past.

This week, reports surfaced of diesel leaking from an underground pipe found on a farm in Iowa. According to officials, the Iowa Pipeline ruptured, spewing out nearly 138,000 gallons of diesel.

"The product is under pressure, so as soon as the leak develops, it starts coming out pretty fast," stated Jeff Vansteenburg with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. "Vacuum trucks are sucking up as much liquid as they can and taking that down to Magellan's terminal...Once they've recovered all the free product that they can then they will go in and remove the contaminated soil."

Magellan Midstream Partners, the company that owns the Iowa Pipeline, have been offenders in numerous other spill incidents.

Last October, their pipeline ruptured in Nebraska, which carried anhydrous ammonia. The leak killed one person and forced the evacuation of 23 households. In 2010, the company also paid $418,000 for a 45,000 gallon gas spill in Oklahoma.

A Much-Needed Alternative

Oil spills can cause grave damage, both economically and ecologically. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 sank the tourism industry for a number of coastal towns and cities in the Gulf of Mexico. A 10-ton oil spill in the Baltic Sea killed more than 60,000 long-tailed ducks.

Yet, we are still planning new projects.

If the Keystone XL finishes construction, as the Trump administration hopes it will, it could significantly impact natural habitats and put endangered species at risk. Indeed, just last month, the Belle Fourche Pipeline ruptured near Belfield, ND, spilling more than 178,000 gallons of crude oil into surrounding lands and waterways, and all of this just 150 miles west of the site of the Standing Rock protests.

According to an Inforum interview with Bill Suess, an environmental scientist from the North Dakota Department of Health, 130,200 gallons spilled into the Ash Coulee Creek, while 46,200 gallons leaked onto the nearby hillside.

These incidents, and others like it, really do make solar and other renewables look like the only real option.

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