In the first time that anyone has formally petitioned the government over dilbit, Inside Climate News is revealing that a petition filed with federal agencies last week by a coalition led by the National Wildlife Federation is demanding a moratorium on pending tar sands pipelines—including the Keystone XL—until regulators establish new rules to ensure their safety. Filed on behalf of 29 environmental and community groups and 36 individuals, the petition includes a list of nine policy recommendations for the safe transport of dilbit, a type of crude oil produced from Canada's oil sands region.
The NWF-led petition was filed with the EPA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), an agency within the Department of Transportation that regulates pipelines.
Specifically, the petition asks the agencies to:The petitioners could not have known how the dangers outlined in the petition would be accentuated by the Exxon's Pepasus pipeline that carries Canadian diluted bitumen, or dilbit, which on Friday spilled in central Arkansas, releasing an estimated 84,000 gallons of the crude within about 45 minutes before the release was stopped.
—Place a moratorium on proposals for new and expanded dilbit pipelines until new rules are created for dilbit transportation safety.
—Increase the frequency of inspections for pipelines that carry dilbit.
—Create an independent review process for pipeline companies' oil spill response plans for diluted bitumen, and make the documents open to public comment.
—Require companies to report the specific products transported in their pipelines, and to make the information available to the public in the event of a spill.
The Administrative Procedure Act requires the government to respond to the petition in a "reasonable" amount of time, Murphy said, and the agencies must back up their response. "They can either say 'the current rules are fine and here's why'…Or they could say, 'you're right, the current rules are inadequate, and we'll start the rulemaking procedure.'"Delay on the XL Pipeline decision has been of vast importance and a successful strategy; for the longer the delay the more time to reveal the dangers and corruption involved in implementing the XL Pipeline. How many more spills will we see before a decision is made?
The rulemaking process could last up to two or three years, he said, and the petitioners' request for a moratorium could create a substantial delay for the Obama administration's Keystone XL decision, expected this summer.
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