Center for Biological Diversity

Another Pipeline, Another Spill

Yellowstone River
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After news of yet another pipeline burst, it's long past time for the Obama administration to say no the Keystone XL pipeline. In July, an Exxon pipeline spilled up to 42,000 gallons of crude oil into Montana's Yellowstone River, threatening wildlife and the surrounding community. The Yellowstone River is home to numerous species of fish, including native pallid sturgeon, downstream from the spill. Spawning season means that there are fish eggs and recently hatched fish in the river's channels.

While we don't yet know the cause of the Yellowstone River spill, it's a sad irony that an extreme weather event, long projected to increase in frequency and intensity with climate change, is one suspected cause. Speculation is that Montana's recent record rainfall and its huge melting snowpack resulted in higher water flows, which may have eroded the riverbed and exposed the pipe to swift-flowing debris.

Yet despite global warming, oil-spill risk, habitat destruction and other factors, President Barack Obama and the U.S. State Department are still considering approving TransCanada's plans to build yet another massive oil pipeline. The Keystone XL pipeline would span 1,700 miles and transport one of the world's dirtiest fossil fuels: tar sands oil. Just the method of extracting oil from tar sands can devastate Canada's boreal forest and wetlands that serve as breeding grounds for migratory birds. A spill along the route could threaten water supplies, wildlife and public health. The world's leading climate scientists warn we cannot burn enormously greenhouse-gas-intensive tar sands oil and maintain a safe climate. Tell the Obama government that it must put a stop to the Keystone XL project and begin the transition to a clean-energy future.

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Photo of Yellowstone River by Ed Austin/Herb Jones, NPS.

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