You’ve heard of the Keystone XL pipeline, but you’ve likely never heard of a new pipeline in Wisconsin that would make Keystone look minuscule in comparison. This 42-inch diameter crude oil pipeline is currently buried under every major waterway in that state, but plans for its massive expansion are slated for next year.
If the expansion is approved, the pipeline (dubbed “Line 61”) will be ramped up by oil giant Enbridge (the Western Hemisphere’s worst offender when it comes to oil spills) to convey tar sands crude. In fact, it’ll convey more tar sands crude than any other pipeline in America, totalling 1.2 million barrels a day; 1/3 more than Keystone’s 800,000 barrels.
Like Keystone, Line 61 will carry tar sands from Canada, arriving in Superior, Wisconsin. As the line is confined to American borders, however, it will not require presidential approval for expansion—making it far less of a flashpoint than Keystone. Environmental advocates have also alleged that Enbridge’s PR department has done its best to keep this out of the public eye by splitting up the project into several smaller chunks so that it would be tricky for journalists or activists to assemble the full picture of what’s going on. Additionally, no environmental impact study was conducted before the pipeline was put in place.
The final barrier for Line 61 to cross before it reaches approval is the Dane County Zoning Committee. Whether or not the tiny committee can face down the Enbridge machine—or whether they can be bought off, the likely outcome—remains to be seen.
One way or another, this is something we should be hearing much, much more about in the mainstream media.
Images via Wikimedia Commons.