AlterNet: Beyond Keystone: Three Controversial Pipelines You Probably Haven't Heard Of!
While the national debate remains largely focused on President Obama's impending decision regarding the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, communities across the U.S. and Canada are grappling with the oil and gas industry's rapidly expanding pipeline network, cutting through their backyards, threatening water supplies, and leaving them vulnerable to devastating spills. As production booms in Alberta's tar sands and fracking opens up vast oil and natural gas deposits around America, companies are increasingly desperate for new pipelines to get their product to market. "We've so narrowly focused on Keystone that a lot of these other projects aren't getting the scrutiny they probably need," said Carl Weimer, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust. He explains that as production skyrockets and companies look to cash in, no one is really in charge of it all. "We're leaving it up to these individual companies to come up with their own solutions to figure out how to move energy and we don't have any national policy guiding those decisions." According to a recent analysis of federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration data, since 1986 there have been nearly 8,000 incidents, resulting in more than 500 deaths, more than 2,300 injuries, and nearly $ billion in damage. Here are three of the most recent pipeline controversies emerging around the country: 1. Bluegrass Pipeline. Opposition is growing to the proposed 500-mile bluegrass pipeline, which would transport flammable natural gas liquids across Kentucky to an existing line that terminates in the Gulf. Landowners and environmentalists gathered at the state capital last week to protest the project, which they fear would threaten water supplies and safety. Residents were caught off guard by the project, landowner Stacie Meyer said, she noticed survey markers going up near her property and had to search the internet and consult her neighbors to find out what they were for. Locals are concerned the company, Williams Co., could use imminent domain to seize the land if opposition proves too strong. As the Courier-Journal reported, "Brad Slutskin, a Woodford County landowner who spoke at the rally, said the pipeline companies are threatening condemnation based on a loose interpretation of Kentucky law, and most property owners don't have the money to mount a court challenge." Residents opposed to the pipeline - including a group of nuns and monks who are refusing to give up their land for the project, delivered a petition with more than 5,200 signatures asking Gov. Beshear to include pipeline and eminent domain-related issues in the upcoming special legislative session, which he refused. "Knowing a pipeline is coming through, is like waving a red flag to the creatures of the Earth. God created Earth as our land to use and not abuse," Sister Joetta Venneman told local WAVE News. As the gas fields north and east of Kentucky boom, the state will likely find itself in the cross-hairs of many battles to come.