The latest news about the Keystone pipeline spill near Edinburg, North Dakota, is that it was much larger than previously estimated.
Which isn’t unusual. Initial estimates about these spills are just that. Initial estimates. They’re almost always revised once cleanup efforts commence and the true scope of the spill comes into focus. In this case, the initial estimate was off by a bit more than usual, but whatever. What matters is that the full scope is identified and cleaned up.
It’s not hard to hear some frustration, though, in what Bill Suess had to say to Forum News Service reporter Hannah Shirley:
“This is a significant spill as far as size goes,” Suess said. “But if this didn’t have the name Keystone on it, nobody would really be paying much attention to it, because we’ve had bigger oil spills from pipelines.”
Suess is the Spill Investigation Program Manager for North Dakota’s Department of Environmental Quality, and he’s not at all wrong. He might get some flak for just coming right out and saying something like that, but he shouldn’t. Because it’s the pure, unvarnhised truth.
The politics of pipelines in America dictate that we all go fainting into the bushes every time a pipeline spills. Especially a pipeline with the name “Keystone” in it. Each incident is supposed to be treated as smoking-gun evidence of the inherent evils of pipelines, specifically, and oil development generally. Proof positive that we ought to stop doing both.