03 May 2012

Oil Spills in Great Lakes Basin a Problem

Story first appeared in the Record Eagle.
States should approve their own rules to protect the Great Lakes basin from oil pollution because federal laws inadequately address the problem, according to a new report written in response to a massive oil spill in southern Michigan.

The report released Monday by the National Wildlife Federation and University of Michigan Law School concluded there's no review of long-term risks related to oil-pipeline routing decisions and states have a "critical opportunity" to minimize impact before construction. The report says stronger rules are needed to prevent spills such as the July 2010 accident near Marshall that released more than 800,000 gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River and Talmadge Creek.

The report's lead author, said during a conference call that she was surprised to learn from her research that there is no federal oversight for routing of oil pipelines and that the federal process focuses only on reducing risk  once a given pipeline is already in an environmentally vulnerable area. Only three Great Lakes states — Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois — require permits specifically for new oil pipeline construction.

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