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NWF on Enbridge Energy $75 Million Oil Spill Settlement: ‘Jury Still Out’ if it Will be Enough

"Time will tell if the settlement with Enbridge Energy will be sufficient to clean up after one of the state’s most calamitous environmental disasters."

Today the State of Michigan announced a settlement with Enbridge Energy for the company’s 2010 oil spill in the Kalamazoo River—the largest inland oil disaster in U.S. history, in which more than 800,000 gallons of oil contaminated 38 miles of the river, sickening people, killing fish and wildlife, and harming the economy. Five years after the disaster, the cleanup is not complete as Enbridge Energy continues to clean up the river.

Commenting on the settlement, Mike Shriberg, regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center, said:

“The jury is still out on whether the $75 million settlement announced today will be enough to fulfill Enbridge Energy’s responsibility to clean up after the worst inland oil disaster in U.S. history—one that dumped more than 800,000 gallons of oil into Michigan waterways, sickening people, killing fish and wildlife, and harming Michigan’s economy. 

“It’s promising that this money is going into habitat protection and restoration projects with direct benefits to Michigan’s wildlife and recreational economy.  What’s less clear is whether the amount of funding is enough to achieve long-term restoration goals for the river as well as to serve as a sufficient penalty for the economic, social and ecological damages caused.

“The state of Michigan has not explained the basis for the terms in the settlement, including how it arrived at the $75 million Enbridge Energy is obligated to pay and the claim that Enbridge Energy will be able to clean up the remaining oil contamination within five years.

“Considering the federal government has not released its final damage assessment of the Enbridge Energy oil spill disaster, it’s fair to question whether the Michigan settlement will pay for all of the restoration work that is needed.

“Time will tell if the settlement with Enbridge Energy will be sufficient to clean up after one of the state’s most calamitous environmental disasters—and whether it is strong enough to deter another one.”

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