The Billings Outpost

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Lots of questions

Keystone XL pipeline officials recently came to Billings to assure us their pipeline would be safe and wonderful, that they’d use horizontal directional drilling to go under our major rivers and all would be well. But why are they only going 25 feet under our rivers? Keystone XL pipeline will cross the Milk, Missouri and Yellowstone rivers in Montana plus many hundreds of smaller streams. Every single one of them is important. This summer in North Dakota officials measured scour holes 60 to 100 deep in the Missouri River after high water. Why won’t Keystone XL, with its touted advanced technology, go deeper for the river crossings? It makes sense to go deeper. It’s common sense, even.

Or is it about cents, and the company is going cheap and less safe?

And, if the Milk, Missouri and Yellowstone are major rivers, which are the so-called lesser waterways where the pipe will only be buried 5 feet below the water, as supposedly was Exxon’s Silvertip pipeline that broke under the Yellowstone. Will that include medium-sized rivers? Or seasonal runoff channels? Have you ever seen a head cut go deep and scour out a channel in no time? Or seen a river cut a new channel? Montana experienced an amazing runoff this year and folks experienced flooding like never before. The Keystone XL pipeline has to be designed to handle the extremes, not the norms, and 25 feet is not enough.

Julia Page



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