Exxon Mobil: “Taking on the world’s toughest energy challenges”
After recent events, it’s possible Exxon has taken its slogan too literally. On Saturday, March 30th, residents in Mayflower, Arkansas woke up to a black, tar-like, energy challenge flowing into their backyards and onto the street. Exxon Mobil’s Pegasus pipeline, which runs an estimated 80,000 gallons of oil per day, sprung a leak, resulting in the evacuation of nearly two dozen homes.
On Exxon’s website, under the “safety and environment” and “spill performance” tabs, it says, “The number of non-marine hydrocarbon spills greater than 1 barrel in 2011 was 73 percent higher than in 2007 and 108 percent higher than 2010.” Yeah, that’s right, the occurrence of spills has more than doubled in three years.
Two paragraphs later it says that their marine fleet has had five years of successful, disaster-free, oil transportation (knock on wood). This claim poses an obvious question: why wouldn’t Exxon keep using its marine fleets if they were so safe and effective?
Is Exxon so committed to taking on the world’s toughest energy challenges that it voluntarily proposed and constructed inefficient means of transportation for the sake of cost effectiveness? It may seem that way, but all is not lost. Americans still have time to wake up and smell the roses—or crude oil, rather—and become active against the big oil corporations that are taking advantage of the environment and disrespecting the people.
“I had no idea there was a pipeline out here, I mean literally at the corner of the subdivision,” one resident told a local news correspondent from KHTV. These operations continue right under citizens’ noses and by the time people become aware, disaster has already struck.
The answer? Activism. Facebook group Tar Sands Blockade is a good place to find out how to get involved and where to be active. The group also shares news and other updates about pipeline construction, so you can keep in touch with everything going on in your region, state, or city.
For the sake of our environment, we can only hope that recent events, like this oil spill, will stay vivid in the minds of the people and urge them to become activists, because the Pegasus pipeline is child’s play compared to the behemoth Keystone Pipeline that is currently under construction. Despite the massive amounts of public opposition Keystone XL has faced, it is still being built and is scheduled to begin operations in 2015, and that’s bad news.
“The pipe that just burst in Arkansas carries less than a tenth of the amount of this heavy tar sands crude that Keystone would,” said Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, a website devoted to fixing climate change. The volume of heavy tar sands oil, which is considered by many to be the dirtiest type of oil we’ve harvested, that would be traveling through the pipe is enormous, and comparing it to previous spills really helps to illustrate just how destructive a Keystone burst could be. Considering that cleanup efforts on the Kalamzoo River in Michigan are still underway three years after a tar sands pipe burst and released over one million gallons of the heavy oil into the river, it becomes clear that these pipes could definitely have severe long-term consequences.
The Keystone Pipeline will run from Canada to refineries in Texas. It will cross over the Ogalla Aquifer, which supports about 27 percent of the irrigated land in the United States and yields about 30 percent of all ground water used for irrigation in the country. This is definitely something we don’t want to see ruined by our greed and dirty oil.
I do not think it is wise to play Russian roulette with an oil transportation technique that has doubled in failure rates over the past three years and has the potential to cause irreversible damage to our environment, so let’s wake up, get informed, and get active to stop it from happening. We can make a difference here, so let’s get to work.