State DNR Poised to Approve Enbridge’s Crude Oil Storage Facility and Pipeline Expansion
Enbridge Energy Co., located at 2800 E 21st St, Superior, Douglas County, Wisconsin, FID 816010580, has submitted to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) a permit application, including plans and specifications for construction and operation of three new large (24.5 million gallons each) crude oil storage tanks, modification of two large (under construction) crude oil storage tanks, increased pipeline 61 tar sands derived crude oil carrying capacity, associated piping components, increasing pumping pressure at 3 stations and installing 9 new pump stations, cleaning emissions from existing tanks T35 – T40, and a new diesel emergency generator.
Enbridge Company’s permit application proposes tripling the volume of tar sands derived crude oil transported by Pipeline 61. This pipeline is currently carrying Canadian tar sands oil through Wisconsin from Superior, WI, then south to Delevan, WI. The pipeline then crosses over the Illinois state line and continues south where the tar sands are distributed to refineries.
DNR has already made its preliminary determination that Enbridge Company’s application meets state and federal air pollution control requirements, and that the permit should be approved. DNR’s analysis and draft permit is available for inspection at the Bureau of Air Management Headquarters, Seventh Floor, 101 South Webster Street, Madison, Wisconsin, 53703; (608) 266-2621; and at the Northern Region Air Program, Superior Area Office, 1701 N. 4th Street, Superior, WI 54880, tel. (715) 392-7989; and at the Superior Public Library 1530 Tower Ave., Superior, WI 54880-4880. Alternatively, the public may contact Don C. Faith, III at (608) 267-3135, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. DNR’s public notice says the information is also available for downloading at: http://dnr.wi.gov/cias/am/amexternal/AM_PermitTrackingSearch.aspx.
The DNR held a public hearing on Monday, May 5, 2014 in Superior, Wisconsin. The purpose of the hearing was for the DNR to hear public testimony on Enbridge Company’s proposal. A dozen people testified against DNR issuing the permit at the hearing while four registered in favor of DNR’s granting of the permit.
The proposed Endbridge Co. expansion is planned in two phases: phase 1 will involve the modification of 3 existing pump stations to increase tar sands crude flow from 400,000 bpd (barrels per day) to 560,000 bpd; phase 2 will involve the construction of 9 new pumping stations in Wisconsin along the pipeline route and increase the tar sands crude flow to 1,200,000 bpd. That is an awful large amount of heavy crude oil to be flowing through Enbridge’s pipelines every single day.
Enbridge’s Pipeline 61 will be an avenue to export dirty tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, outside of the United States, to overseas oil markets, where it is likely to be used for combustion into energy, with the primary byproducts of (1) carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas that is being up to dangerous level in the atmosphere and oceans, as it remain in the atmosphere for over a century, adding to the warming of the atmosphere, in combination with the greenhouse gases emitted before and after it’s emission. This quantity of oil burning will greatly and negatively affect air quality around the surface because warming air is more conducive to carrying the pollutants and soot which emerge from all sources, causing disastrous air quality affects on human health all over when breathed.
The DNR claims that it has already made a determination under ch. NR 150, Wisconsin Administrative Code, that this type of proposal normally does not have the potential to cause significant adverse environmental or secondary effects; also DNR’s hearing notice states that “This is a preliminary determination and does not constitute a final approval from the Air Management Program or any other DNR sections which may also require a review of the project.
DNR decides to issue this permit to Enbridge Company, this will lead to more tar sands spills, water pollution, increased demand for tar sands oil, more climate change pollution, and more air pollution.
Warmer air holds more moisture, and thus more air pollution in the United States. DNR should deny the permit application for Enbridge Company’s Line 61 and the proposed massive oil storage facilities on that basis alone.
Line 61 crosses through Wisconsin from Superior to Flanagan, IL and will include new pumping stations (in Hawthorne, Ladysmith, Owen, Marshfield, Minong, Stone Lake, Adams, Portage, and Waterloo) and increased pumping pressure at existing stations (Sheldon, Vesper, and Delavan). This puts a number of our water bodies at risk, from Castle Rock Lake, the Rock River, Lake Koshkonong, the Flambeau River, and most importantly, Lake Superior and the Great Lakes, which provide drinking water for 42 million people. A spill could devastate these waterways, and the jobs and economy that depend on them.
Tar sands oil is more carbon intensive than traditional oil—greenhouse gas emissions of tar sands oil are about 17% greater than the average barrel of oil on a life-cycle basis. We are already seeing the effects of climate change in Wisconsin. The drought and heat wave in 2012, followed by relentless rain and flooding last year give us a glimpse of what climate change could cost Wisconsin in the future, from our farms to our forests to our cold-water fisheries. More tar sands oil is the last thing our climate needs.
The deadline for commenting to DNR on Enbridge’s permit application is May 18, 2014: Mail your comments to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Air Management, ATTN: Don C. Faith, III, 101 S. Webster Street, Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921, or email them to the address listed above.
Tars sands oil means more spilled oil: in order to extract the oil, it is mixed with chemicals, this makes it more acidic and leads to more ruptures and spills. Tar sands pipelines in the Midwest spill 3.6 times more per mile than traditional pipelines.
Enbridge’s track record is terrible: Since 1999, Enbridge has had 800 spills, including the very severe, very significant spill in the Kalamazoo River. The pipeline spewed tar sands oil for over 17 hours, before Enbridge realized it was leaking. The environmental damage to the wetlands, Kalamazoo River, and Talmadge Creek will likely never fully remedied. The full extent of public health effects will possibly never be known, but 320 homes had to be evacuated.
Enbridge is responsible for a number of spills in Wisconsin as well: In January 2007, an Enbridge pipeline ruptured, pouring more than 29,000 gallons of crude oil onto a farm field in the town of Curtis in Clark County. A month later, another Enbridge pipeline rupture dumped 176,000 gallons of heavy crude oil in a Rusk County farm field. In January 2009, Enbridge Energy Partners paid the State of Wisconsin $1.1 million to settle claims under Wisconsin’s waterway and wetland protection and storm water control laws. In July 2012 a farm field in Grand Marsh, Wisconsin was covered by at least 1,200 barrels of oil after an Enbridge pipeline ruptured there. Enbridge had to purchase a nearby home that a local resident described as being “covered in oil.”
Tar Sands oil poses a greater threat to our water resources: unlike traditional oil, tar sands oil is dense and does not float, so the way to clean it out of a river is unknown. Four years later, the Kalamazoo spill is still not cleaned up and the Environmental Protection Agency ordered Enbridge dredge the river. Clean-up costs will exceed $1 Billion.
Technology cannot properly detect or prevent a spill: a Natural Resources Defense Council investigation found that leak detection systems missed 19 out of 20 spills and 4 out of 5 of the larger spills.
The climate cannot afford tar sands oil: Tar sands oil is the dirtiest and most carbon intensive form of oil. The extraction process is incredibly carbon intensive and requires destroying the Canadian boreal forest, one of the largest carbon sequestration sources in the world, capturing twice as much carbon as the tropical forests. As a result, greenhouse gas emissions of tar sands oil are about 17% greater than the average barrel of oil on a life-cycle basis.