In a talk co-sponsored by Common Action Free School and Vision 2020, local environmentalist Anne McGowan led a discussion Sunday on opposing the construction plans for multiple oil pipelines in central Illinois.
For a detailed report on the background of the issue, written by the presenter Anne McGowan, see Enbridge Pushes for a Tar Sands Pipeline in McLean County: Background and Update.
The Enbridge Corporation has plans for two different pipelines, which together would most likely be part of a system that would rival Keystone XL (see maps below).
Flanagan South is slated for construction next month, which would cross Woodford and Tazewell Counties. The Southern Access Extension pipeline, which would run North-South just east of Bloomington in McLean County, is slated for mid-2014. On the latter, farmers in McLean County have refused to allow construction, but the company could seek eminent domain from the Illinois Commerce Commission in the next year.
During the discussion, community members expressed opposition to the pipelines, preferring that we move away from climate-busting tar sands and toward cleaner sources of energy. Former NASA scientist James Hansen has called the tar sands “game over” for the climate.
Of more direct local concern, Enbridge’s Southern Access Extension pipeline will cross – in McLean County alone – the Mackinaw River, Money Creek, and a tributary of Money Creek. Money Creek feeds directly into Lake Bloomington, the city of Bloomington’s source for drinking water. In recent months there have been a significant number of pipeline spills affecting rivers and creeks nationwide, and the tar sands that could be pumped through this pipeline is diluted bitumen, which sinks in water and therefore is difficult to remediate and more damaging to ecological systems. If a spill were to reach Lake Bloomington, it would spell disaster for our drinking water supply.