NBC News’ Brian Williams reports that a North Dakota wheat farmer discovered an environmental disaster on his land. An estimated 20,000 barrels of crude oil has leaked from the pipeline transporting oil from the Bakken Shale formation to rail cars about 45 miles away. The largest oil spill to occur on land, it is suspected that the leak was caused by a quarter-inch hole in the pipeline.
In light of this new disaster, it is imperative that we consider the consequences of a similar event occurring in the breadbasket of our country should the Keystone XL Pipeline be approved. That pipeline would carry tar sands oil, the same type of oil that was spilled in a pipeline leak earlier this year in Mayflower, Arkansas, from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The citizens of Mayflower are still waiting for their day in court, while Exxon continues to rake in profits. The damage that could be done to the farmlands traversed by the pipeline, should it be approved, is incalculable, not to mention what would happen to food prices.
Of course, there is also the specter of the disastrous effect approval of Keystone XL would have on climate change. Back in April, climate scientist James Hansen penned an Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times urging President Obama to say no to the project, calling it the pipeline to disaster. One need only to look at the mess in North Dakota, recall all the oil spills of the past – and there have been many – to understand that we don’t need another in our heartland.