Tar Sands Oil Spills – U.S. study coming, but not soon

There is no question the wheels of government move slowly; and in this case they are barely rolling if you read down to the end of this article. From Bloomberg News: U.S. Agency Will Assess Dangers of Tar Sands Oil Spills.

The federal government said …it will study a critical question in the battle over oil pipelines carrying Canadian diluted bitumen: Are spills involving dilbit more dangerous to people and the environment than leaks of lighter traditional oil?

In recent years, dilbit spills in Michigan, Arkansas and elsewhere have provided convincing evidence on the subject, but researchers are still working on definitive scientific studies that would translate those examples into broader conclusions about the risks of dilbit.

The disastrous effects of those spills—and fear that future spills could foul aquifers and vital waterways—have inflamed opposition to dilbit pipelines across the country.  * * * The controversial project still lacks the required presidential permit for the segment stretching from the U.S.-Canada border through Nebraska.

News of the study came during questioning at a Congressional hearing held Tuesday to review the progress by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) toward fulfilling mandates included in the 2011 pipeline safety act.

“As a part of our 2014 budget, there was a requirement that we do a further study to evaluate whether dilbit spills are more risky than spills of other crudes,” said PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman. “We are in the process of finalizing a contract with the National Academy of Sciences to do that study.”

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