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It’s Good To Be ExxonMobil: Oil Giant Not Required To Pay For Arkansas Spill

Memo Pad Politics

It’s Good To Be ExxonMobil: Oil Giant Not Required To Pay For Arkansas Spill


ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. will be required to fix the Pegasus pipeline, which has spilled an estimated 3,500 to 5,000 barrels of “low-quality Wabasca Heavy crude oil from Alberta” into central Arkansas. An order from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration halts any flow through the pipeline until the agency approves the repairs.

However, ExxonMobil wasn’t required to pay into the fund that will pay most of the costs to clean up the spill.

Pegasus carries crude oil that often contains a large amount of bitumen. And according to a 1980 law, companies transporting this type of crude from the oil shales of Canada are not required to pay into the trust fund. Only companies transporting conventional crude are required to pay the eight cents per gallon that was used to clean up the 364 pipeline spills last year.

And, yes, the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would be shipping the same sort of crude that allows oil giants to skip out on insuring against spills.

Before the spill, Keystone was extremely popular with the American public, with nearly two-thirds of all Americans and every group except liberals supporting the proposed pipeline, according to a Pew Poll:


Arkansas state officials seem intent on not letting the oil giant off the hook if criminal negligence was involved in the rupture.

“There are many questions and concerns remaining as to the long-term impacts, environmental or otherwise, from this spill,” Arkansas attorney general Dustin McDaniel wrote to ExxonMobil executives Tuesday.

Others seem skeptical that pipelines like Pegasus, which is 50 years old, can ever be completely safe.

“We’ve been concerned about the presence of the pipeline in the (Lake Maumelle) Watershed for some time now,” said John Tynan, Central Arkansas Water’s watershed protection manager. “We’ve taken a number of steps to mitigate the risks that it poses, but obviously the only way to eliminate all risk is to remove the pipeline from the watershed.”

This high-profile spill puts into focus many of the concerns environmentalists have about crisscrossing the country with more pipelines. But given the popularity of such projects, it seems a first step is to make sure shale oil producers are contributing to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

AP Photo/Jeannie Nuss


  1. Budjob April 3, 2013

    How many children are going to bed hungry?How many people don’t have healthcare?How many people have to make a choice between medication versus food?How many people are working for minimum wages? Yet Exxon/Mobil is exempt from the clean up procedure.The greatest democracy??? !!!! in the world is HORRIBLY FUCKED UP FOLKS!!

    1. Not only that but they dont pay tax on profits and we GIVE them 5 billion per year.

  2. It is quite evident that Obama is a plant and no doubt a member of the bush crime family.

    Obama says he cant do anything because of congress. Thats convenient.

    As smart as he is, he appears to be either stupid regarding the using the Sherman Act to break up these cabals or he is in on it.

    After 5 years of excuses and half assed attempts at “solving” problems, I figure he is the problem along with the rest of the assholes in dc except for bernie.

    Obama and the rest of the wealthy “democrats” dont give a rats ass about children or healthcare.

    They got their tax cut and no doubt thank george every day for it.

    1. Allan Richardson April 4, 2013

      It is not convenient, it is the truth that he cannot do anything because of Congress. Even though the majority of VOTES for the House in 2012 were for Democrats, the majority of MEMBERS in the House are still Republicans, and most of them crowding the far right edge of the spectrum, because they have GERRYMANDERED the districts in most states. Add to this the right wing nut job feelings about his race and alleged foreign birth, and the GOP voting “base” (the ones who vote EVERY election and vote for the craziest candidates in primaries) keeps the House majority determined to block EVERYTHING he wants to do, whoever (i.e. all of us) gets hurt.

      To put it another way, the extremists, who were organized by Faux Newz into the Tea Party (you didn’t believe it was spontaneous? really?), could not STOP the voters of America from electing, and re-electing, a black President, but they are bent on PUNISHING the country for doing so.

      If you want to blame someone, blame the moderate GOP voters who did not show up in the 2010 and 2012 GOP primaries to choose SANE candidates, and the normally liberal voters who either stayed home or fell for GOP propaganda in the 2010 and 2012 general elections for House and Senate. The best we can do NOW is to keep the pressure on the incumbents, and on the media, and when they STILL vote against the country, as the probably will, find good candidates to run against them in 2014. Maybe we can, with the kind of volunteer effort that elected Obama twice, spark a “tea party remorse” wave and sweep the House. Then we would have, in 2015, a Congress that will solve our problems.

      1. sigrid28 April 4, 2013

        These are indeed the hard facts that none of us likes to think about. And there’s more. Reform in 2015 will not be enough to undo the disastrous effects of the Bush era and the Republicans’ obstruction under the Obama administration. Democrats and moderate Republicans will have to remain far less complacent than they are inclined to be by nature, to unseat for a long enough time the obstructionists who have got themselves into safely gerrymandered seats and the deep pockets who have put them there. Huge procedural reforms are necessary to correct the rules of the Senate that have led to the exploitation of the use of the filibuster, to establish fair voting and districting practices (perhaps even waiting for a new census in 2020), and to undo the destructive effects of Citizens United, perhaps calling for constitutional changes, such as requiring term limits for members of congress.

      2. I still cant figure out how bush was able to do so much damage to our country without support from the same democrats who contend today that the Presidents hands are tied.

        Got more excuses?

        1. Allan Richardson April 4, 2013

          During the first Bush term, American public opinion was solidly with him because of 9/11 hysteria, and news media that were afraid of being called anti-American (by other news media such as Faux which had bought and paid for right wing Congressmen). Remember the vile retaliation against the Dixie Chicks and Bill Maher (for saying the obvious truth that suicide bombers, despite the evil of their intentions, at least show more courage than most soldiers). Some Democrats, of course, were (and still are) DINO, but others were afraid to vote like Democrats. With the TP victories of 2010 which defeated Democrats who DID have some courage, most are still afraid, and non-TP Republicans are afraid to move even the slightest bit toward the center.

  3. Daniel Jones April 3, 2013

    Since we are now piping in the bitumen oil–which we did not when it was signed into law–the 1980 statute needs revision.

    This is aside from the hideous certainty that Keystone will have a spill.

    1. sigrid28 April 3, 2013

      I find myself asking, since a spill is inevitable, is it worth the risk to extricate ourselves from dependence on foreign oil, which has got the United States embroiled in expensive overseas conflicts?

      On a lighter note, if you watch television, you would believe every U.S. citizen–from the youngest to the oldest–is wearing some sort of leakproof underwear. May I suggest that if the oil industry were to team up with Johnson and Johnson to outfit its pipelines, old and new, with super duper, disposable, curve hugging, twistable, spill proof pipeline Pampers, it would make us all happy.

      1. Sand_Cat April 4, 2013

        Keystone is for exporting the oil via the Gulf of Mexico. Neither it nor any other measure supposedly increasing domestic supply reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Exxon doesn’t care if we are dependent on foreign oil, or even if we the people and the entire country go to hell around them so long as they make a profit, and – just as they are not required to clean up their messes – they are not required to sell their oil in the US; they will go where they make the most profit, the nation be damned!

        And even if they did deign to sell the oil to us, has the cure for unhealthy and dangerous addictions now become to give the addict even more of the substance to which he or she is addicted? If the “American” oil companies could be persuaded to sell their wares to us, do you really think that would come close to meeting demand, which would probably rise dramatically in reaction to the bonanza from a position already beyond the capability of all domestic (and in the long run, international as well) sources to meet, at least in any kind of sustainable fashion?

  4. sigrid28 April 3, 2013

    I have a solution: Pipeline Pampers!

    1. Bill Thompson April 4, 2013

      Not a bad idea all pipe lines should be double pipe systems (a pipe with in a pipe ). Why don’t we require that ? It cast 3 times the money to build. But it would create jobs and protect the environment

  5. Dominick Vila April 4, 2013

    When the average American is caught loitering, driving ten miles over the speed limit, or smoking a joint he is fined and, sometimes, ends up in jail. When large corporations such as oil companies, chemical plants, energy plants, Wall Street, the insurance industry, the agri-business or any other major conglomerate does something illegal or harmful to our environment and our well being, the most they get is a request to please fix what you broke. And when they get in trouble as a result of their harmful practices and fraudulent activities we, the people, bail them out. You could not develop a more screwed up system that what we have even if we tried to do it deliberately.
    So, why do they get away with it? Because they control our government and we, the people, remain complacent and allow the status quo to dominate our lives and destroy our future.

    1. Mark Forsyth April 4, 2013

      Certainly a case of being so much more easy to sit in the dark rather than to get up and change the light bulb.

      1. sigrid28 April 4, 2013

        Or put in an energy-saving fluorescent.

    2. UtahTwisted April 4, 2013

      They will pay, the article is misleading

  6. Jim Myers April 4, 2013

    One thing that COULD help produce future pipeline facilities that are safer is to put an expiration date on the pipelines.

    By doing this, the stress failures that are occurring with these facilities could be limited or eliminated completely.

    Since I do not have a background in metal fatigue, tensile strength, or any of the other disciplines that are required to address this in an intelligent manner, I cannot give any useful information that would help.

    However, I do believe that after considering all relevant data, any life expectancy for the transportation of petrochemical substances through pipelines should dictate that the entire pipelines and support facilities should be COMPLETELY replaced at 50% to 75% of the useful life expectancy.

    I know the petrochemical industry will squawk at even the discussion of this idea, but the alternative should be the dismantling of ANY pipeline, including the associated facilities, involved in a spill, regardless of the severity.

    That only seems extreme unless the water and land affected are on your own property.

    Then it makes perfect sense.

    1. sigrid28 April 4, 2013

      And what if the water is in an aquifer that supplies the fresh water for an entire region of the U.S.? Considering that, it would be better to eliminate ALL pipelines, put ourselves on an energy diet, and invest the time and money saved into developing non-fossil fuel-based sources of energy. I ask those who balk at this idea to try one day without drinking tap water or washing anything in it; and don’t use your car either, because eventually fossil fuels will dry up, too. Then ask yourself, could I stand another day? If so, try that, and so on. Until you give up, you will be living the life of our grandchildren if we allow greedy oil barons to destroy the country’s freshwater aquifers.

  7. charleo1 April 4, 2013

    I probably sound like a broken record, bringing up Joe Barton.s apology
    to BP. at the Senate investigation of the largest oil spill, since oil companies
    started spilling oil. Which first occurred by the way, right after they drilled the
    first hole. But I digress. Senators were asking things like, “Is it true that your
    guys usually just fill out the safety inspections, and the Government guy signs
    it at the bottom? The oil tycoons were starting to squirm a little. Which was
    understandable. Because the manufacturer of the blow out valve that failed,
    had advised previously, they had not tested this vital piece of equipment at the
    depth BP was drilling. Then, it was Joe’s turn. Said he didn’t want to live in a
    Country, that would attempt to, (and I’m not kidding here,) “Shake Down,”
    a company, simply because they had had an accident. This as the crude
    continued to gush out of their, “accident,” at a rate the oil company’s lawyers
    forbid them to even guess at. And I thought. Yes, Barton is a Republican. And
    he’s from Texas. But, good Lord, does that always prohibit him from taking the
    side of his Country, just once? So, the fact that an oil company wants the
    Keystone pipeline. Even though it would not bring down gas at the pump.
    And, not if, but, WHEN, there is a spill, it’s almost impossible to clean this goo
    out of the environment. And never mind when it spilled, the company would be
    under no obligation to pay for the clean up. And Canada itself, that did stand to
    gain revenues from the China owned petroleum outfit, that’s recovering the
    sludge. Refused to allow the line to run to their refineries, much closer than Texas.
    Because they deemed it too environmentally dangerous, to run the pipe across
    their Country. But think, if we in the U.S. knowing all that, and are still stupid
    enough to build it, just because the oil company wants it. We can have at it.

  8. Budjob April 4, 2013

    It doesn’t matter where the “NEW” oil comes from.It is released on the world market,and then the price is “legislated”!!

  9. Siegfried Heydrich April 4, 2013

    I’m sorry, but the solution is unlimited liability for environmental disasters, and if negligence / criminal behavior is found, that voids the corporate veil and allows the assets of first the people directly in the chain of management responsible for the incident to be forfeited, and if those prove insufficient, the assets of senior and the board of directors. When you put THEIR assets in jeopardy and make THEM personally responsible, then they will make very sure they spend the money to ensure safety. None of this “we’re not doing that $10,000 test because of budget constraints”.

  10. disqus_CmPS82g3vc April 4, 2013

    Do what I do: bypass their filling stations when you’re refueling. I’ve eliminated BP, Exxon and Mobil. When enough of us do this, they’ll change their ways because the only way to get them to listen is to hurt their bottom line.

  11. Adrienne Warren April 9, 2013

    ya know the ‘I told ya so” moments are coming fast these days.


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