Yet Another Oil Disaster … in Michigan

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The Gulf disaster is still far from over, even if members of the national press apparently need help finding the oil. But now there’s another oil disaster to worry about. Calhoun County, Michigan is in the midst of what might be the worst oil spill ever in the Midwest.

At least 19,000 barrels of crude leaked from an oil pipeline owned by Enbridge Energy of Canada into the Talmadge Creek sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning. The creek leads to the Kalamazoo River, a major waterway that feeds into Lake Michigan. Already, the spill has spread 16 miles downriver. Gov. Jennifer Granholm declared the area a disaster zone on Tuesday night.

The Michigan Messenger is on the story, reporting that there seems to have been a significant lag time between when local residents first reported the spill and when the company officially acknowledged it. There’s also some discrepancy between the company’s estimate of the spill (19,000 barrels) and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (23,800 barrels). Imagine that …

More disturbing? Apparently this is a regular event for Enbridge:

This is not the first time the Canadian oil company has had contact with PHMSA officials. Documents from the agency show that Enbridge Energy pipelines have leaked oil on 12 different occasions in Michigan since 2002.

Most of those leaks were very small, between one and 25 barrels of oil (each barrel contains 42 gallons). But in three cases the company’s pipeline spewed 100, 120 and 500 barrels into the surrounding area. None of the spills caused injuries or death, PHMSA documents show. Those 12 cases caused a total of more than $810,000 in property damage.

Mind you, Louisiana also had to deal with another gusher yesterday as a tug boat struck a wellhead, spewing oil and natural gas 100 feet into the air.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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