Central Arkansas Water has written federal Judge Kristine Baker to formally object to a consent decree between Exxon Mobil and the federal government on the Pegasus pipeline break that spewed heavy Canadian crude on a Mayflower subdivision and leaked into nearby wetlands.
The decree — in which Exxon would pay a fine and agree to some precautionary procedures to be prepared for future breaks — is not consistent with the federal Clean Water Act’s goal to eliminate discharge of pollutants into waterways.
The CWA clearly provides ‘that it is the policy of the United States that there should be no discharges of oil or hazardous substances into or upon the navigable waters of the United States … Yet, the United States repetedly states i the brief that the proposed consent decree will be available as a hammer when the next spill occurs rather than taking meaningful and measurable steps to ensure that another spill is prevented. In fact, by its own admission, the United States believes another pipeline spill will occur in the futre. Therefore, this consent decree and concession to future pipeline spills is unacceptable, inconsistent with the CWA and not in the best interest of the public.”
The pipeline remains shut down and Exxon has not said when, or if, it hopes to restart it. Many critics have called for its abandonment.
The CAW letter by John Tynan, director of customer affairs, said the $5 million fine wasn’t sufficient to deter Exxon from future misconduct. It asks the judge to reject the agreement or until after there has been more time for public review.