NWF: Proposed Settlement Fails to Hold Enbridge Accountable

National Wildlife Federation asks Department of Justice to renegotiate settlement

Ann Arbor, MI – The National Wildlife Federation is asking the U.S. Department of Justice to renegotiate a proposed settlement with  Enbridge Energy for the Canadian pipeline operator’s 2010 oil spill near Kalamazoo, Mich.—the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history.

In comments submitted to the Department of Justice today, the National Wildlife Federation wrote: “The proposed consent decree is too generous to hold the defendants (“Enbridge”) fully accountable for causing the largest, catastrophic inland oil spill in U.S. history. As a result, the proposed consent decree fails to provide an effective deterrent to Enbridge and an industry with a track record of leaks, spills, and environmental, economic, health, and social disasters.”

“The proposed settlement is insufficient and needs to be renegotiated,” said Mike Shriberg, regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center. “Considering Enbridge reported a $937 million profit for the first quarter of 2016, a $61 million fine and assurances that Enbridge will do basic inspections and maintenance could be merely considered a cost of doing business, rather than a true deterrent that will prevent negligent oil disasters that devastate our communities, contaminate our drinking water, and threaten America’s fish and wildlife.”

The proposed settlement, according to the National Wildlife Federation:

Fails to subject Enbridge Energy to the maximum civil penalty provided by law. The National Wildlife Federation is asking the company to pay $86 million in civil penalties for the Kalamazoo River oil disaster, as opposed to the $61 million in the settlement.
Fails to protect U.S. waters and the Great Lakes by allowing Enbridge response teams 10 minutes after an alarm sounds to shut down a pipeline and take other protective action to prevent an oil spill. The National Wildlife Federation is asking for this so-called “10-Minute Rule” to be struck from the agreement.
Fails to provide transparency so that the National Wildlife Federation, the public, and other interested parties can hold Enbridge accountable for its work to meet the obligations of the settlement. The National Wildlife Federation is asking that Enbridge status reports to the government required under the settlement be posted on a public website for easy public access the same day the information is received.
“Enbridge’s well-documented incompetence in recognizing, addressing, and stopping the 2010 unlawful discharge of oil from Line 6B fully justifies the most stringent level of government oversight and accountability to ensure the most responsible and careful operation of the pipeline system possible,” the National Wildlife Federation wrote in its comments. “To the extent the proposed consent decree provides such oversight and requires such accountability, NWF supports it.”

The National Wildlife Federation is asking Enbridge Energy and the federal government to renegotiate the settlement. If the Department of Justice fails to do so, the settlement will go before a federal judge, who will then decide whether to accept or reject the settlement.

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