State Department commuters target of Mayflower oil spill ad


WASHINGTON — The Mayflower oil spill has a starring role in an advertising campaign urging the State Department to reject the Keystone XL pipeline.

For the next month, State Department workers who commute by subway will pass by a 20-foot-wide poster of the Arkansas oil spill and a warning that “this is just a preview of what’s to come” if the pipeline from Canada to Texas is approved.

The advertisement was installed this week on the floor of the Foggy Bottom D.C. Metro station, which is near the U.S. State Department. It will remain for a month, according to SumOfUs.org, Oil Change International and Environmental Action.

“That jarring reminder pales in comparison to the effects from toxic spills and climate disruption we all will endure should this dirty tar sands pipeline be built,” said David Turnbull, campaigns director of Oil Change International.

The State Department is expected to make a final decision on the $5.3 billion Keystone XL pipeline project this summer. If approved, it would carry 800,000 barrels of oil each day from the tar sands of Western Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.

A month ago, ExxonMobile’s Pegasus pipeline ruptured and spewed thousands of gallons of tar sands oil into a Mayflower subdivision where 22 homes were evacuated.

“Ensuring our decision makers see exactly what their policies mean to the people and wildlife in places like Mayflower, Ark., is a key to making sure they do the right thing. We won’t go away until they do,” said Drew Hudson, director of Environmental Action.

The Arkansas congressional delegation remains supportive of the Keystone XL pipeline that TransCanada has proposed. Tons of pipe for the project are stockpiled at Welspun Tubular in Little Rock.

“We must do all we can to prevent accidents like the one that occurred in Mayflower from happening, and I remain committed to ensuring that the concerns of those affected are addressed truthfully and fairly,” said Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock. “But the fact remains: We need energy, and pipelines are the safest way to transport oil.”

Griffin last visited the Mayflower spill site about a week ago with Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., who visited the Mayflower oil spill site Monday, also remains a supporter of the Keystone pipeline, according to Pryor spokesman Michael Teague.

“His position has not changed. Pipelines are still the safest and most economic way to transport oil,” Teague said.