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January 20, 2012

Exxon to Pay $1.6 Million over Yellowstone River Oil Spill

Hot off the presses:

Exxon Mobil agreed Thursday to pay $1.6 million in penalties to the state of Montana over water pollution caused by a pipeline break last summer that fouled dozens of miles of shoreline along the scenic Yellowstone River.

Montana Department of Environmental Quality director Richard Opper said the penalties in the case mark the largest in the agency's history. The Texas oil company will pay $300,000 in cash and spend $1.3 million on future environmental projects, according to a copy of the document obtained by The Associated Press.

Also Thursday, Exxon increased its estimate of how much crude spilled into the river during the July 1 accident near Laurel to 1,509 barrels, or more than 63,000 gallons. That's up from earlier estimates of 1,000 barrels spilled — a number that Gov. Brian Schweitzer had disputed as too low.

Remember, if the filthy Keystone XL tar sands pipe ever saw the light of day, a similar blowout would make Exxon's Yellowstone River blunder look like an innocent hiccup:

It would irreparably harm the environment, compromise the Ogallala Aquifer, and affect perhaps millions of Americans in the Midwest. That's because the Keystone XL pipe, if approved, would be pumping more than 20 times the amount the Exxon pipeline was delivering before it ruptured.

-- Brian Foley

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