Chevron, one of the world’s largest oil companies, is actually on the same side as environmentalists when it comes to the proposed route of a 16 mile long pipeline which would run from New Jersey to Manhattan. The pipeline would carry gas drilled through hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking. The pipeline, proposed by Spectra Energy, would pass through land owned by Chevron’s subsidiary, Texaco.
Chevron filed an emergency motion to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on March 13, three days before FERC released its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). In the motion, Chevron called on FERC to halt any further action concerning the pipeline. Specifically, the oil company asked FERC to “address significant gaps in the record herein relating to specific environmental risks associated with the proposed route.”
The main reason for Chevron’s concerns about the project is the risk of benzene being released into a waterway known as the Kill Van Kull. Benzene is classified by the EPA as a known human carcinogen. In other words, it causes cancer. The emergency motion stated that there could be “a potentially catastrophic release of benzene into New Jersey public waters.”
When Chevron is concerned about the environmental risks of a project, agencies like FERC should take notice. After all, Chevron brought the world numerous environmental disasters. One of them occurred in Ecuador where the company ran the Lago Agrio oil field from 1965 to 1993, and dumped over 16 billion gallons of toxic waste into Amazonian waterways. Perhaps the $18 billion in damages awarded to the 30,000 Ecuadorians who filed a lawsuit against Chevron caused the company to become more cautious.
Unfortunately, FERC’s final EIS on March 16 concluded that the project “would result in some adverse environmental impacts” but they could be minimized. It’s too bad the agency didn’t heed Chevron’s warning. As Food & Water Watch put it, “If Chevron has environmental concerns about a project, then you know that truly unmitigated devastation of biblical proportions is imminent. The end may truly be near.”
It is amazing that a federal agency can ignore the warnings of an oil company concerning the risks of the pipeline. Even typing that sentence seems strange. Chevron and all oil companies, for that matter, stand diametrically opposed to all environmentalists. However, in this case it’s the federal government who is opposed to both Chevron and environmentalists. Maybe the end is near.
Photo credit: Wikipedia user, Coolcaesar