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Enbridge To Pay $177 Million Settlement To Prevent Oil Spills

An EPA employee holds one of the types of booms used to clean up the Kalamazoo River oil spill in 2010. Patrick Miles of the U.S. Attorney's Office (middle) and acting EPA regional administrator Robert Kaplan (right) made the announcement about the Enbrid

The federal government aims to prevent future oil spills by making an example of Enbridge Energy. The company has reached a $177 million settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice.

$62 million will go toward civil penalties for violating the federal Clean Water Act and $5 million will reimburse the EPA for cleanups. John Cruden is the assistant attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice. He says this will be the highest civil penalty for an oil spill in U.S. history.

“It is a strong statement of deterrent for others, but it’s also holding them accountable for the actions that they did here on site,” says Cruden.

Most of the settlement, $110 million, will go toward preventing oil catastrophes in the future. That means things like better pipeline inspections, leak detection, and emergency response. The settlement also calls for additional safety measures at Enbridge’s controversial Line 5 pipeline which crosses the Straits of Mackinac.

Michigan environmentalist Beth Wallace says the $62 million in penalties are a drop in the bucket for a big company like Enbridge. She says she sees the Enbridge’s pipeline improvement orders as a business opportunity for the company - just like it was on the Kalamazoo River.

“They’ve made a ton of money off of doubling the size of the pipeline and transporting even more product through the system. And they were allowed to do that because they had to replace the line as part of the corrective action orders,” says Wallace.

The public has 30 days to commenton the settlement before it’s filed by the Department of Justice.

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