Letter to the editor: Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce responds to 80 Feet is Enough!
Anti-fossil fuel environmental activists have been attacking both existing and proposed pipeline projects throughout the country for years. No matter what the project is, we have seen these environmental extremists all take their plays from the same book: implementing the use of misinformation and scare tactics to try and drive public sentiment against pipeline companies.
Here in Wisconsin we have seen this same strategy employed by members of 80 Feet is Enough!, an environmental activist group started in the Marshfield area that has publicly attacked pipeline operator Enbridge. A recent letter to the editor by 80 Feet is Enough! member Keith Merkel was filled with such fear tactics and false claims.
While the author claims not to oppose the use of oil, the organization’s own website states that a goal of its founding was concern with “the environmental impact of more pipelines, more oil, more carbon.” This group, despite the misinformation in Mr. Merkel’s letter, is simply trying to attack the use of fossil fuels to further its environmentalist goals.
While it may be convenient for radical groups like 80 Feet to fabricate such a story to line their own pockets financially, the fact is that absolutely nothing has changed with regard to the state’s vigorous regulatory process. The authority to condemn property was neither expanded nor increased in any way despite what these activists want you to believe.
In fact, according to the nonpartisan Wisconsin Legislative Council, Act 55, the state budget, did not change any state permitting requirements specific to pipeline companies. The Council also stated that “Act 55 did not expand the eminent domain authority for such companies.” To suggest that the integrity of the state’s rigorous permitting process has been changed or compromised in some fashion for pipelines is nothing short of baseless fear mongering by this activist group.
Step away from the heated 80 Feet is Enough! rhetoric, and you will find that pipelines are the safest and most efficient way to transport petroleum products. Enbridge has delivered more than 17 billion barrels of crude oil and liquids with a safety record of better than 99.999 percent, and as a company it has invested billions of dollars in technologies, tools, and training to further improve pipeline safety and reliability.
So when you see media reports of well-funded environmental activists stirring up trouble elsewhere, know that they also exist right here in our backyards. Groups like 80 Feet is Enough!, the Green Party, and 350 Madison will continue to protest progress at every opportunity. Their goal is simply to shut down fossil fuel use, and they are willing to put whatever misinformation they can out there to scare the public to accomplish their goals.
The fact remains that pipelines are critical to providing the energy we need to power our businesses, keep the lights on in our homes, put gas in our cars, and manufacture so many of the products we all use in our daily lives.
Director of Environmental and Energy Policy
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce