The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 18, 2013

Your View: Tar sands oil spills threaten environment

Keith Blomstrom, Fairmont

— The Exxon Mobil tar sands pipeline spill in Arkansas shows we can’t trust oil companies to protect our wildlife, communities and public health. Families were evacuated from 22 homes, children were sent home from school because of air quality concerns, and local ducks were killed or coated with oil!

In March of this year a Canadian Pacific train with a mixed load of crude oil and other cargo derailed in Parkers Prairie, Minn. Tar sands oil was included in the spill. They are still cleaning up. On the Red Lake Reservation, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa is camping on top of four Enbridge pipelines in protest of easements and oil spill concerns. Tar sands oil is pumping through those lines.

The Minnesota Conservation Federation, of which I am an officer, has joined a coalition of 29 other conservation organizations and 36 landowners in the petitioning of two federal agencies asking them to strengthen the current regulations to address heavy-oil pipeline ruptures including shut down of lines at early signs of possible leaks.

Across America, we’re being asked to accept the increased spill risk and carbon pollution to transport tar sands oil from Canada to American ports for refining, none bigger than the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. But to what benefit? Gas prices are set by the international oil market, and that’s exactly where most of this oil will end up — if it doesn’t spill in our local waterways first.

President Obama must keep his promise to protect America’s wildlife and communities from climate change and tar sands oil spills and say no to Keystone XL.