(Enbridge worker skims oil off Kalamazoo Oil Spill)
Laporte, Indiana – The Hoosier Environmental Council along with several environmental partners testified at an Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) hearing in LaPorte today, saying they are greatly concerned about the potential impact on water quality, vital habitat, and public health in Northwest Indiana of an oil pipeline expansion project proposed by Enbridge Energy.
The Save the Dunes Conservation Fund, Freshwater Future, the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, Alliance of the Great Lakes, and Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter Dunelands Group all joined formal comments that the Hoosier Environmental Council submitted to IDEM.
Enbridge Energy has requested permission from IDEM to expand an oil pipeline that will transport 500,000 barrels per day of diluted bitumen, commonly called tar sands oil. The company is proposing to double or potentially quadruple the capacity of its tar sands pipeline in Northwest Indiana through the construction of a larger diameter 50-mile pipeline.
The construction will negatively impact the 145 wetlands and 82 water bodies found within the construction area. The physical and chemical properties of this product (tar sands oil) pose a unique, long-term threat to the environment and water resources of the Lake Michigan watershed and to the health and safety of residents of Northwest Indiana.
We hope the Indiana Department of Environmental Management will exercise its full authority under the Clean Water Act to ensure Enbridge complies with all federal, state and local requirements — we need IDEM to do this for the sake of Lake Michigan, its ecosystem, and all of the people who fish, swim, and rely on it as a source of drinking water, said Kim Ferraro, Hoosier Environmental Councils water policy director and staff attorney.
Enbridge has a very troubling track record on the construction and maintenance of its pipelines. In 2010, missteps on the part of Enbridge Energy resulted in a spill of 1.1 million gallons of tar sands oil into 34 miles of the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. Enbridge ignored warning signs for years, and as a result, residents were forced from their homes by toxic fumes and the river was closed to use. If a Kalamazoo-style spill happened at any one of the 30 major waterways crossed by the proposed pipeline in Indiana, the spill would likely reach Lake Michigan. The results on our economy, public health, and the environment would be extremely damaging.
The need for better protections for our natural resources are clear, and we call on IDEM to require the implementation of measures that will ensure the integrity of our waters and aquatic habitats, said Nicole Barker, executive director at Save the Dunes. At the same time, we encourage the state of Indiana to consider enacting additional pipeline regulations that will protect residents and the natural environment alike.
IDEM is accepting public comments which can be directed to: Marty Maupin, Project Manager, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Office of Water Quality, 100 N. Senate Avenue, MC 65-42 IGCN 1255, Indianapolis, IN 46204-2251 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.