EPA enforcement chief Cynthia Giles called the State Department’s review of a controversial oil sands pipeline project “insufficient” in a letter protesting the project Wednesday.
The project, which when finished will import vast amounts of Canadian sand oil crude as far south as the Gulf of Mexico, was temporarily halted by the State Department in April over concerns by environmental groups that the idea was unsafe and threatened important wildlife habitats. But after a brief hiatus the State Department released a supplemental review which recommended that the project’s permits be granted by the end of the year.
Giles echoed the sentiments of many environmental advocacy groups that the project needed to be tested further for potential implications relating to oil spills, environmental justice issues, and released emissions. Citing an 800,000-gallon oil spill in Michigan last year, Giles articulated that little research has been done on the effects of chemical diluents in the oil.
“We believe an analysis of potential diluents is important to establish the potential health and environmental impacts of any spilled oil, and responder/worker safety, and to develop response strategies," explained Giles. The letter also stressed further evaluation should be done on the pipeline's effects on migratory bird patterns, individual low-income communities, the likeliness of detecting future spills quickly, and other potential issues.
The EPA and other interested groups were given 90 days to comment on the State's decision and provide feedback before actual implementation.