Video From NWF Testimony on the Enbridge Oil Spill

Beth Wallace and I testified yesterday at the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearings on the Enbridge oil spill. We didn’t have long, but we fit a lot in.

You can watch the video of part one of the hearing and see our testimony starting at 1:52 — scroll down to find the video link.

Beth described the community and wildlife impacts in her testimony, and I made policy and procedural recommendations (pdf). We also submitted written testimony (pdf) .

We were part of a sobering but amazing panel of local residents, who all testified about the horrific experiences they’ve had as a result of the spill. One man’s wife has been hospitalized with a mysterious disease; a family’s business was shut down; the family home of two daughters was ruined just after their parents died; a daycare center and the kids inside are suffering from rashes, headaches, and vomiting.

The anger at Enbridge was palpable in the room, and that spilled over to the government agencies, particularly the Pipeline Hazardous Materials and Spill Authority (PHMSA), who are supposed to regulate the pipeline industry.

After hearing residents’ stories, you can certainly see why. Imagine living in a really nice community, lots of land, a wonderful river, plenty of fishing and boating, a center for tourism, a great place to raise a family. One day and without any warning, a pipeline you didn’t even know existed turns the river into a black, oily cesspool, with fumes so strong you have to evacuate. The pipeline company and the government rush in and take over your yard, your home, your business, your kids’ schools. You can’t get answers on what’s happening, whether your family’s health is at risk, how long your lives will be turned upside down. You can’t get company or government officials to help with your immediate needs: money to evacuate to a hotel, support to take your kids to a doctor because of vomiting from the fumes, funds to keep your business going. Instead, they give you air filters bought at Walmart that aren’t designed to remove the fumes in the air. And to add insult to injury, they make you sign away all your legal rights just to get the air filter. In fact, Enbridge demanded that you sign waiver of your medical privacy rights for them to help with your heath care – giving the company access to all of your medical records.

These circumstances aren’t hypothetical. The witnesses at the hearing told these stories, and much worse.

I’ll post more on the hearing when I get back from the Capitol.

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