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Promises that can't be kept: Michigan and Louisiana

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Pix from my last two posts, Good luck, Felix, and Louisiana flood protection board sues Big Oil:



This from Michigan particularly catches my eye...

Enbridge’s claim that they have restored the Kalamazoo River after the 2010 spill holds no merit, nor does it justify expanding the pipeline. Tar sands cannot be cleaned up; this material is thick and heavy, it sinks in water, and clings to surfaces. Expanding the pipeline increases the risk of another disaster for all of life and future generations.

...coming as I do from the Harry Shearer New Orleans flood protection board lawsuit transcript. Ninety-seven oil companies are defendants. I believe that means that they're all charged with failing to keep written, legal promises to repair marsh damage. These promises go back in history, and the state of Louisiana has failed to enforce them; it is not the fault of the current Bobby Jindal administration. Louisiana is losing land at the rate of a football field an hour... no, 50 minutes... no, 38 minutes. So this little board is doing what no one else has tried to do: make the oil companies keep their promise.

But what kind of promise is it? Can it be kept? Can you restore 1900 square miles of land, the size of the state of Delaware, that's gotten lost in Louisiana in our lifetimes? And is more land disappearing faster and faster? Can it even be stopped?

Shearer makes the point that as a society we're turning to private litigation because political/governmental avenues have failed:

Harry Shearer: As people become more and more frustrated with the political system and its inability to do big things or look long-term, the private litigation system has more and more become an alternative channel. There might have been a time, let’s put our imagination caps on, when a part of government somewhere would have taken on the task of saying to the oil companies, you got to clean up. I’m just positing that that’s possible in some imaginary democratic universe, with a small d.

Meanwhile, the oil companies and the governor are trying to derail the lawsuit. Nola op-ed by oil association leader Chris John says that it's in the oil companies' interest to stop the land loss. I'm thinking, duh. And I'm thinking, like when do you think you might start trying? Oh wait, I guess they have:

Chris John of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association: For the past two decades, industry has implemented processes and dedicated resources to restoration and preservation efforts in addition to working with the state to secure funding for coastal protection efforts.

And the lawsuit, as a proactive alternative?

John Barry, Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority - East: ...this suit, if it goes forward to fruition, it’s going to take years...

...tick tick tick tick tick tick...

We are so screwed.

Good luck, Felix.

. . .

Update: New photo just posted from Michigan:

A bird’s eye view of some of the destruction Enbridge has caused in “Pure Michigan”

Screenshot-EnbridgeDamageMichigan.png448.35 KB
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Another story about oil company cleanup promises, from Canada:

First, Imperial Oil set fire to a field on her family’s farm, igniting a layer of peat that caused the ground to cave in. Next, a pipeline ruptured, spilling oil into the slough that had formed after the sinkhole was flooded by rain and snow. Then, the company filled in the five-acre swamp with pieces of concrete drilling pads covered with sludge, timbers stained with hydrocarbons, and other waste materials.

A good neighbour to oil industry until then, Natala Bilozer sat down with officials from Imperial 20 years ago and demanded the contamination on her 160-acre property south of Edmonton be cleaned up. The company agreed — but two decades later, her son and daughter-in-law are still battling to make that happen.

In a dispute that has outlived Natala Bilozer and encompassed eight environment ministers, Imperial has been directed to clean up the five-acre tract by Alberta officials three times. Assessments done by three firms on behalf of the company over the last decade show the contamination has spread to groundwater and adjacent soil.

Nothing has been done so far to fix it, the family says.

“Government just writes the rules, it doesn’t enforce them,” says Rick Bilozer, who is 58 and carries youthful memories of shovelling grain on the nearly century-old farm beside his late father, Joe.