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Oil spills bring added scrutiny to pipeline issues

Hundreds of gallons of hydraulic fluid spilled from a Lansing power plant on Sunday, March 31, leaving a sheen on the Grand River running through Michigan. This followed the rupture last week of ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline in the city of Mayflower, Arkansas which sent about 3,500 to 5,000 barrels of crude oil onto lawns and roadways. Nearby Lake Conway was threatened, but the spill was contained in time to prevent contamination.


Federal pipeline safety officials have since issued a corrective action order to which prevents ExxonMobil from restarting operations on the failed segment of the pipeline until the agency is satisfied with repairs and is confident that all immediate safety concerns have been addressed.

Environmentalists have seized upon these unrelated events to question the inspection and safety of older pipelines while attacking new pipelines. David Turnbull, the campaign director for Oil Change International said, “The spill in Arkansas should be the nail in the coffin for the Keystone XL pipeline proposal.”

These events follow the release last week of a new Pew Research Center survey which reveals that 66% of Americans are in favor of building the Keystone XL pipeline, compared to 23% who oppose the project.

It is yet to be seen if the recent spills will have an impact on the public support for Keystone XL.

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