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Wisconsin oil spill is Canadian firm’s worst since 2010 disaster

from: http://www.latimes.com/

 
By Matt Pearce
July 29, 2012, 2:10 p.m.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Enbridge, a beleaguered Canadian oil pipeline company, has spilled more than 50,000 gallons of light crude oil in rural Wisconsin —  shortly after the company said it had implemented safety reforms after a massive 2010 spill in Michigan.

Officials for Alberta-based Enbridge Inc., one of the United States’ most vital suppliers of Canadian oil, said Friday’s spill has been contained by cleanup workers,  who are now trying to repair and restart the 24-inch pipeline known as Line 14, which carries more than 300,000 barrels a day.

The incident is another black mark for an ambitious energy company ridiculed earlier this month by U.S. safety officials, who likened Enbridge workers  to the Keystone Kops. The comparison came after an investigation of a broken pipeline that released more than 800,000 gallons of heavy crude near Marshall, Mich. — one of the largest inland oil spills in U.S. history and certainly the most expensive.

The new spill, in sparsely populated Adams County, Wis., forced the evacuation of two homes. It is the company’s worst spill since the 2010 disaster, and it drew the ire of U.S. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee.

“Enbridge is fast becoming to the Midwest what BP was to the Gulf of Mexico, posing troubling risks to the environment,” Markey said in a statement. “The company must be forthcoming about this entire incident, and deserves a top-to-bottom review of their safety culture, procedures and standards.”

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DNR Backed Off Violations

May 10, 2012

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It appears influence peddling is alive and well in Wisconsin.  See the article below about one of the Governor Walker’s top appointed officials at the WDNR stepping in to let a polluter off the hook for over $37,000 in fines.

Governor Walker has praised his appointees’ approach, stating that, “increasing compliance and decreasing the number of… violations is a good thing for Wisconsin’s valuable natural resources…[and] our economy…”

Milwaukee Riverkeeper disagrees, believing if we are to deter future violations (a good thing even according to Governor Walker), then penalties must be sufficiently large to punish the polluter.  For more information see the article below.

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The Story of a River

By: Ben Cutbank

The words that make up this piece were given to me by the Milwaukee River.

The Milwaukee River runs through the place where I live. Really, it is the place where I live, or at least part of it. This place would not be what it is without the river.

On a warm, sunny day the river will call to me in a bodily way to come into the water, or at least to feel it with my hands or feet. I’m sure this relationship between river and human, river and bird, river and insect, is older and more sacred than I can imagine.

When the river calls to me in this way, I want so badly to get in. I want to spend all of the warm and sunny days heeding this call, and the other days watching from the river’s side, listening and learning.

What breaks my heart is that I will not enter this river and let its waters caress my body, at least not today or any time soon, because its waters are full of poison.

Less than ten years ago, my friends and I would swim in the river on every warm and sunny day. Then, a number of them started experiencing rashes on their skin or felt sick from accidentally letting some of the river water into their mouth. We stopped swimming in the river. The poison dumped or seeped into the river continues to build, and the river continues to be killed, while we essentially stand aside and mourn.

I’m tired of mourning and I’m tired of hearing that this destruction is natural, inevitable, “just the way things are.”

What made clear in my own life that this river was changing for the worse, that it was being killed, was when I no longer wanted to let its waters touch my body. While obviously bad in itself, there’s a larger picture here that must be looked at.

There are living beings—including the river itself—whose lives depend on this river. When the river dies, so to do the fish, bugs, birds, and other animals who drink and eat from the river, who call the river home. Thus, each year that there are more and more pollutants from agricultural run-off in the river, there are less and less songbirds and frogs.

Prior to the arrival of Europeans on this continent, there were human beings who lived here that loved the Milwaukee River. They were indigenous peoples called the Menominee, Potawatomi, and Fox, among other tribes. The lives of these human beings were firmly intertwined with the life of the river. These human beings ate and drank from the river, prayed to the river, and listened to the river’s wisdom.

Those sustainable human cultures were victims—and continue to be victims—of large-scale murder—genocide—at the hands of white settlers. The same people who committed these atrocities against the indigenous humans are now killing the river. Both the river and the human beings who love it—and know how to live sustainability with it—are targets of the dominant culture, industrial civilization. In order to control, exploit, and pollute the river, the humans who depend on it for sustenance must also be displaced or eradicated. We can see how this happened here at home in the case of the Milwaukee River, but we must see further that this has happened everywhere and is the story of civilization.

Currently, every stream in the United States is contaminated with carcinogens. 99% of native prairies have been destroyed. 99% of old growth forests are gone. 90% of the large fish in the oceans are gone. It’s estimated that unless there is a dramatic shift in course, global warming will become irreversible in around 5 years, eventually rendering all life on this planet doomed.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The destruction can be stopped and we must stop it. Clearly, the river, the land, indigenous humans, and so much more life, are the victims of an abusive system. Like all perpetrators, the way to stop them is to aim at the root of the problem and remove or block their ability to abuse. Basically, the goal is to return the circumstances to the way they were before the abuse started, with the victims free and safe. The abuse of civilization has been a campaign of 10,000 years, so obviously there is much to be done to stop it. But, what choice do we have other than to start now and try?

Who or what do you love? Surely you love something or you wouldn’t be here. What would you do to defend your beloved?

I love the Milwaukee River. I want to see this river come back to life, year after year regaining health. I want to see no more poison seeping into the river, no more dams suffocating it, no more destruction of any kind. I want to see all of that destruction reversed and those who would commit abuse stopped and held accountable for their crimes against life.

I love the Milwaukee River and I love life. I will do whatever is necessary to defend the living, before the planet is killed entirely. Will you join me?

Coalition Intends to Sue EPA for Failure to Enforce Clean Water Act at Power Plant

from Milwaukee Riverkeeper

Yesterday, the Cleaner Valley Coalition, of which Milwaukee Riverkeeper is a member, called on the EPA to take stronger steps to clean up pollution at the We Energies Menomonee Valley coal-fired power plant.

Two members of the Coalition – the Sierra Club and its attorneys, Midwest Environmental Advocates (MEA), filed a Notice of Intent to Sue the EPA for failing to comply with its duty to ensure that a new water pollution permit is issued for the plant.

The Valley power plant has been operating with an expired water permit since 1987; the expired permit fails to include standards necessary to protect fish and aquatic life and recreation in the Menomonee River. As detailed in a report from the Sierra Club, it is estimated that billions of fish and other aquatic organisms are killed each year by water-intake systems on outdated power plants, including coal-fired power plants like the one in the Valley. Water-intake systems suck in water to cool the power plant, then spew hot water back out into local waterways.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) has been working to revise the permit for years (the Valley’s permit is the longest expired water permit in the country). Milwaukee Riverkeeper and the Cleaner Valley Coalition believe the delay has been way too long.

If the WDNR does not issue a permit in the next few months to address the threat to our waters, then EPA should take immediate action. The EPA has 60 days to respond to the NOI. If it does not respond, or fails to take necessary action during this period, Sierra Club and MEA can proceed to file a lawsuit in United States District Court.

To read the full press release and article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel click here.

Dow and Monsanto Set to Team Up to Reintroduce Agent Orange Pesticide in the MidWest

from http://earthfirstnews.wordpress.com/

Cross Posted from Op Ed News

In a match that some would say was made in hell, the nation’s two leading producers of agro-chemicals have joined forces in a partnership to reintroduce the use of the herbicide 2, 4-D, one half of the infamous defoliant Agent Orange, which was used by American forces to clear jungle during the Vietnam War. These two biotech giants have developed a weed management program that, if successful, would go a long way toward a predicted doubling of harmful herbicide use in America’s corn belt during the next decade.

The problem for corn farmers is that “superweeds” have been developing resistance to America’s best-selling herbicide Roundup, which is being sprayed on millions of acres in the Midwest and elsewhere. Dow Agrosciences has developed a strain of corn that it says will solve the problem. The new genetically modified variety can tolerate 2, 4-D, which will kill off the Roundup resistant weeds, but leave the corn standing. Farmers who opt into this system will be required to double-dose their fields with a deadly cocktail of Roundup plus 2, 4-D, both of which are manufactured by Monsanto. Continue reading

Jet Fuel Leaks Into Area Rivers

February 3, 2012

UPDATE: Shell has responded with a list of Community Information FAQ’s.  They are attached below.

*If you require more information on this issue contact the Milwaukee pipline community information line at: 1-866-467-4775.

Milwaukee Riverkeeper has been monitoring the estimated 9,000 gallon jet fuel leak from a Shell Oil Company pipeline along the eastern border of Mitchell International Airport, which discharged jet fuel into Wilson Park Creek and the Kinnickinnic River for OVER A WEEK in late January before the pipeline was shut down.

Teams of responders have been working around the clock to contain the spill, placing floating booms along the creek and river to contain the spread of the fuel and using vacuum trucks to skim fuel from the surface of the waterways.  They report the fuel has not reached Lake Michigan.

Riverkeeper has spoken to several informants that intimated the condition of the pipeline has been bad for a long time, but airport officials did not address it because it would have required shutting down the north-south runway (which has now been shut down to localize and repair the leak).

We will continue to monitor the situation and investigate legal options for rectifying the damage to our rivers.

For more information see the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article and the report fromWISN Channel 12.

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ShellOilFactSheet.pdf 51.13 KB

Bad River Chippewa Against Proposed Mining Legislation In Wisconsin

from http://www.intercontinentalcry.org/


BY  JAN 8, 2012

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa are working, along with several NGOs, to stop a controversial mining bill that would gut existing environmental protections and effectively silence the public in order to streamline mining projects in the state of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin State Assembly Bill 426 looks like it could’ve come straight from former Peruvian President Alan Garcia’s waste basket, for all the good it would do. The 183-page billwants to:

  • Allow for the destruction of high quality wetlands
  • Allow mining waste to be deposited in floodplains and on the shores of lakes and rivers
  • Remove the right of citizens’ to sue for illegal environmental damage by a mine
  • Prohibit the DNR from monitoring mine waste sites or facilities, stopping work at a mine if there are permit violations or pollution, or making mine companies pay fines for those violations.
  • Force the DNR to make a decision on a mining permit within 360 days, otherwise it is automatically approved.
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