Tag Archives: National Energy Board

Paul Wells: Harper’s plugged pipeline policy – Time to change the agenda again?

I quite enjoyed this article by Paul Wells in Macleans.ca – So for your reading pleasure here it is –

“What if the major policy initiative of Stephen Harper’s majority mandate is a non-starter?

This will take some explaining. Let’s begin with a pop quiz. You’re in charge of a big pipe that carries liquid a long distance. One day you notice the pressure inside the pipe is dropping. What on Earth could be making the pressure in your pipe fall?

If it takes you less than 17 hours to answer, “hole in the pipe,” then you would have been much too clever to work for Enbridge in July 2010, when more than three million litres of diluted bitumen gushed out of that company’s pipeline and into the wetlands and rivers near Marshall, Mich. That’s an amount of ethical oil roughly equivalent to the amount of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The oil kept spilling for 17 hours after the initial alarm. By Enbridge’s own rules, the response to a pressure drop should have been to shut the line down until the cause was known, but, you know, whoopsie.

“While there have been larger onshore oil spills, in this case, Enbridge Incorporated is responsible for the release that has been the most expensive to clean up,” said Debbie Hersman, the chairman of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Bureau. “According to a recent Enbridge SEC filing and the EPA, the total cleanup cost, so far, is more than $800 million. That is already more than five times the next most-costly onshore oil spill.” Continue reading

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