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Pipeline rupture

To the editor:

Last week in Washington County, the Keystone pipeline that runs through the middle of Marion County ruptured and spilled 588,000 gallons of tar sands crude oil.

An earthen dam has been built on a creek to try to prevent oil from migrating into larger water sources.

The oil in the pipeline is a thick, tar-like crude that is heated and mixed with liquid natural gas distillates to create a toxic fluid that is pumped at pressures as high as 1,700 pounds per square inch.

In 2010 a tar sands pipeline burst in Michigan, dumping nearly the same amount of heavy tar sands crude oil into a stream that feeds into the Kalamazoo River. Twelve years later, with more than $1 billion spent, the spill still is not cleaned up.

In Marion County, the pipeline crosses numerous streams that are in the watershed of Marion Reservoir, source of water for most of the towns in county.

It crosses the Cottonwood River about a mile west of Marion.

For taking on this risk to fresh water, the most vital of resources, Marion County and five other Kansas counties were denied tax revenue for 10 years after the pipeline’s construction in 2010.

In 2006 the Kansas Legislature, dominated by Republicans, granted a sweet, 10-year tax abatement to Trans Canada, a foreign corporation.

Representing Marion County in the legislature, Senator Jay Emler and Representative Don Dahl both supported the tax giveaway.

Former county commissioner Dan Holub fought for years to have the abatement reversed to no avail. 

This year is the first in which Marion County can collect property tax from the pipeline. How much will that tax be for a property that could be the single most valuable in Marion County?

With a battalion of lawyers on the payroll, you can bet that whatever the amount of tax is, Trans Canada will contest it. The larger question is what can be done to protect water from a pipeline spill.

It is not a question of if it will leak but when it will leak.

Harry E. Bennett
Madison, Wisconsin

Last modified Dec. 15, 2022

 

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