While most people have been paying attention to the debt crisis, another American disaster has been taking place under the radar in Montana. Three weeks ago, an ExxonMobil oil pipeline pumping medium crude into the United States from from Canada burst, spilling 42,000 gallons of sludge into the immaculate Yellowstone River, the longest free-flowing river in the lower 48 states.
Earlier this week, we reported on kayakers helping to scout the river for oil damage. But if you haven't heard of the spill, don't feel bad. Most news outlets don't report on spills this "minor" because they happen quite literally all the time. About 20,0000 oil spills are reported to the U.S. government annually. Of those, approximately 300 are so bad that the Environmental Protection Agency either intervenes itself or oversees private cleanup contractors. In other words, that's about an oil spill per day. Did you know there's a serious oil spill nearly once per day in America? Did you know that oil spills have increased by a lot over this past decade? They have.
Sadly, poison being dumped haphazardly into our soil and waterways by big oil companies has become so common as to be boring to most media outlets. I bring you this latest one in Montana because of its perfect metaphor: On Tuesday, the EPA reported that it had found an American bald eagle amongst dozens of 'oiled' or dead animals. There was our mascot, drenched in crude.
photo (cc) via Flickr user Tim Gage