Protests against new oil and gas pipeline construction are becoming more or less part of everyday life in the U.S. and Canada. Keystone XL, Dakota Access, Enbridge’s Line 5, Energy East, you name it. There seem to be dozens of new pipelines in the works, and almost all are the target of protests by environmentalists, Native American tribes and First Nations.
After the demise of the Keystone XL project, the Dakota Access pipeline seems to have garnered the most attention, with mass protests from Native American tribes and their supporters earlier this month succeeding in getting the project shelved – a move by the White House that energy industry insiders warned could set a dangerous precedent for other infrastructure projects, affecting the economic development of the country.
The opposition—the environmentalist camp—warns of the risks associated with moving oil by pipeline. A pipeline leak has the ability to contaminate significant areas of land—or worse, water—and cleanups are difficult and costly undertakings, and are rarely 100 percent successful.
On top of the Dakota Access drama, the new kid on the protest-the-pipeline-block is Enbridge’s Line 5, which brings crude oil from Canada into the U.S., and part of which passes along the Straits of Mackinac. The twin pipeline was built in 1953 and transports around 23 million gallons of crude daily.
This Monday, more than 200 people, including Native Americans, gathered at the Straits to demand the shutdown of the pipeline.
Opposition to the pipeline is not new, and is spearheaded by the Oil & Water Don’t Mix initiative, but backed by non-environmentalist residents as well. The group has asked the Michigan authorities to stop the flow of crude through Line 5 for the winter, as a spill in winter conditions would be much harder to contain and clean up.
The energy industry and the environmental organizations are locked in a battle that will take a lot more time before a clear winner is announced, and in the meantime, pipelines are sure to have a tough go of things.
In the green camp, the stakes are nothing short of the future of the Earth. “Keep it in the ground” is their slogan. To the oil camp, it’s all about bottom lines and the sustainability of their business, which, let’s not forget, really does employ thousands of people, although perhaps at some cost. Their leitmotif is “Energy independence.”
Full article: Pipeline Battle Set To Harm U.S. Energy Independence (OilPrice)