The Yellowstone River is home to large numbers of rainbow trout. “If fish get oil on them, if they break the surface and get oil on them, it tends to plug up their gills and it often is fatal,” said Bob Gobson, of the Billings Fish, Wildlife and Parks Program.
Exxon Yellowstone River Oil Spill At least 42,000 gallons (1,000 barrels) of oil spilled into the flooding Yellowstone River from an Exxon pipeline on Friday, July 1. Exxon now says the oil is 25 miles downstream but citizens and the Department of Transportation are saying 200+ miles. Big Oil aka Exxon Mobil is being vague and using the old BP confusion tactic, understating the magnitude of the disaster by falsely minimizing the extent of the damage and scope. Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer says the Oil Giant, Exxon Mobil, will clean up its mess and pick up the tab.
Yellowstone River Status Governor Schweitzer noted the Yellowstone River is running a “full crest” as a “huge torrent” that is “racing out of the glaciers of the continental divide”. “It is bringing trees down the size of the house you live in”. This is when the Exxon pipeline that goes under the river burst. The river is over its banks and has taken the oil with it, into the flood plains and wetlands. The problem is the water is evaporating and draining back into the river, but the oil stays behind. This oil needs to be cleaned up. Schweitzer noted the Yellowstone River is pristine and “the longest un-dammed river in the United States”. “We are going to ensure that Exxon Mobil and the Environmental Protection Agency stay here until it is cleaned up to the satisfaction of the people of Montana and for this generation and for the generations to follow. And when it is done, we will let them know”.
Oil Pipeline Emergency Preparedness Governor Schweitzer said over a year ago he called together all the resources of the State of Montana. He said, “I wanted to be ready in case there was a pipeline emergency in any of our rivers”. There are about 88 pipeline crossings of rivers and streams in Montana. A mock emergency of a pipeline bursting in the Yellowstone River was conducted in 2010. Regarding the actual Exxon Yellowstone River Oil Spill, “our performance has been lacking”. “We were told that oil companies and pipeline companies would band together, that they had regionally stockpiled supplies to respond to any of these emergencies, and we were told there were automatic shutoff valves that made it impossible to even run for a couple of minutes into the river before it would be shutoff”. Schweitzer continued, “Exxon Mobil said it would only run for 6 minutes and it was controlled out of Houston, Texas”. The shutoff response turned out to be close to an hour or about 10 times longer than Exxon Mobil represented.
Montana Governor Leaves Joint Spill Command The Wall Street Journal is reporting that “Governor Brian Schweitzer has pulled out of a joint oil spill command center directed by the Environmental Protection Agency to fight the Exxon Mobil Corp. oil spill on the Yellowstone River, alleging that the center was secretive and largely run by the Texas oil giant”. In addition, he “accused Exxon of withholding documents and information from the press and other officials. “Our state people told (ExxonMobil officials) for quite some time, ‘I don’t know how you’re used to doing business, but in Montana, we have open government requirements”. Schweitzer said in an interview. “We just cannot be involved in secret meetings with ExxonMobil.” The governor pulled his staff from the center, based at a Billings hotel, and set up shop at a state building across the city. Finally, “I’m a citizen of Montana and (ExxonMobil) hasn’t been open and transparent with me,” he said. “Virtually everything they’ve said to me turned out to be not true.”
Montana Governor Becomes Cleanup Crusader Governor Brian Schweitzer and panel discuss Exxon Mobil’s handling of the oil spill on the Yellowstone River.