Almost exactly a year before ExxonMobil’s pipeline burst in the Yellowstone River, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer says he called the state agencies together to make sure they were ready for a potential spill. Last night he told us:
I was assured that these private pipelines companies and oil companies, they all work together and they strategically place equipment around the country, near these pipelines, and when there’s an emergency, they all come together and they work together until the disaster is fixed.
Nope, it didn’t turn out that way. Actually, the crew came in from Salt Lake City. Equipment has come from the coast. We waited a couple of days until we had any kind of a boat or crew could get on the river.
And so, if you wait long enough, this oil will dissipate, and, of course, the interests of the state of Montana to protect this river and the wildlife is not perfectly aligned with ExxonMobil, whose primary interest is to protect the liability for their shareholders.
Now Governor Schweitzer is under pressure from environmentalists to rethink his support of TransCanada’s 1600-mile Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring crude oil from Canada to American refineries. “TransCanada has explained to me that, across every river and stream in Montana, that they would have automatic shutdown valves and backed-up systems by humans, so that this kind of catastrophe wouldn’t and could not occur,” the Hill finds him telling PBS.
Photo: Workers clean up the spill by hand, for one of the most profitable companies the world has ever known.