A leak in an ExxonMobile pipeline released thousands of barrels of crude oil in an Arkansas suburb last Friday, creating not only a sticky mess to be cleaned up but also further doubts about the future of the pending Keystone XL Pipeline.
The leak sprung in the 848-mile Pegasus Pipeline that transports more than 90,000 barrels per day of tar-like oil, drilled in Alberta, Canada, from Illinois to Texas. Exxon doesn't yet have an estimate of how many barrels escaped in the leak, but is allocating enough resources to deal with a spill of 10,000 barrels that led to the evacuation of 22 homes. The company said it wants to " ensure adequate resources are in place." The Environmental Protection Agency has classified the spill as " major," and officials were on site to investigate the spill.
Environmentalists say the Arkansas spill is a perfect example of why President Barack Obama must reject the pending Keystone XL Pipeline. When finished, the total project would carry 700,000 barrels a day of Canadian oil sands through a pipeline stretching from Alberta to Texas. Sierra Club President Michael Brune said "Big Oil" had "botched" the Pegasus Pipeline:
This latest toxic mess is just another reminder that oil companies cannot be trusted to transport toxic tar sands crude through Americans' backyards, farmlands and watersheds. It's not a matter of if spills will occur on dangerous pipelines like the Keystone XL, but rather, when – and at what cost to Americans.
Republicans, businesses and oil state Democrats support the building of Keystone, arguing it will encourage much-needed energy independence in the U.S. They also say the sluggish economy could also desperately use the estimated 5,000 jobs construction and operation of the pipeline would create.
Obama, who has emphasized the importance of addressing climate change, has delayed approving the pipeline. He rejected a permit for the project in January 2012 due to environmental concerns from Nebraska's Republican governor over the proposed route, which has since been revised. Proponents of Keystone accuse him of standing in the way of job creation, but approval would anger liberal environmentalists traditionally part of the president's base.
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