SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A pipeline oil spill in Montana that contaminated a river and a city’s drinking water supply is adding to fears about a proposed pipeline to carry oil from western North Dakota to a terminal in Illinois for distribution to refineries in eastern states.
Many people who commented Thursday at a public hearing in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on the proposed $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline referenced the Yellowstone River spill that contaminated drinking water in Glendive, Montana, this week. Some residents fear a similar incident could occur with the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“If the pipeline fails — and there are plenty of examples of these types of pipelines failing — and cleanup costs exceed what Dakota Access can pay, who is going to end up paying?” Aaron Johnson asked members of South Dakota’s Public Utilities Commission, which must approve a construction permit.
Some at the hearing voiced support for the project, citing a promised economic boost and the value of pipelines in pushing the country toward independence from foreign oil.
“This crude is being consumed by millions of people across the United States,” said Joe Chastain, who represents union workers in South Dakota.
The proposed 1,134-mile Dakota Access Pipeline would stretch from the Bakken oil formation in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. North Dakota’s Pipeline Authority has said it would be the largest-capacity pipeline for the state’s crude to date.
Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners has said the pipeline will have numerous safety features, will create thousands of jobs and generate tens of millions of dollars in taxes and landowner easements. The company wants it operating by the end of 2016.
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