by Max Brantley
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, who's been something less than an environmental crusader to date, has announced that he'll investigate the Exxon Mobil pipeline spill that drenched a Mayflower neighborhood with thousands of barrels of heavy Canadian crude oil.
His release follows on the jump.
Meanwhile: I'm trying to get a statement from U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, who represents Mayflower and who's the leading advocate for Keystone XL pipeline construction, on whether the episode lends any credence to those who've called for a full environmental review of the Keystone project. Griffin wants to fast-track the project. It's getting increasing attention in the Mayflower spill, such as here, in a report that Exxon can't say when it can begin evaluating the Arkansas break and when repairs can be made. Also, the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation and others have scheduled press conference this afternoon to use the Mayflower spill as ammo in the Keystone fight.
Griffin hurried up to the scene of the spill Friday night to show his concern. So far, unfortunately, I haven't seen any photos of him similar to that that showed another energy industry cheerleader, Sen. Jason Rapert, amid the lake of oil that can be an unwanted byproduct of the rush to exploit mineral resources. But he's been silent on Twitter since about the episode. Chris Hayes, host of "All In with Chris Hayes" on MSNBC, did an extensive report on the Mayflower spill last night. He put it in the context of Griffin's pending legislation to push Keystone construction. Griffin was mentioned prominently and Hayes said he planned to ask Griffin to appear on the show. No word if that's going to happen.
DUSTIN MCDANIEL NEWS RELEASE
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel requested today that Exxon Mobil Corp. preserve and maintain all documents and all other information related to Friday’s extensive oil spill and ongoing cleanup efforts in Mayflower.
In a letter to Exxon Mobil officials, McDaniel said his office will open an investigation into the cause and the impact of Exxon’s Pegasus pipeline rupture. Thousands of gallons of crude oil leaked into a residential neighborhood near Lake Conway, leaving significant damage to the State’s environment and to property in the surrounding area.
“This incident has damaged private property and Arkansas's natural resources. Homeowners have been forced from their homes as a result of this spill,” McDaniel said. “Requesting that Exxon secure these documents and data is the first step in determining what happened and preserving evidence for any future litigation.”
McDaniel said he expects Exxon Mobil to comply with his request.
His letter asks the oil company to require any affected employees and affiliated organizations to preserve all “documents, data compilations (including electronically recorded and stored data), tangible objects or other information” relevant to the pipeline rupture, spill and cleanup. He requested that Exxon Mobil take all necessary measures to prevent destruction or modification of those records.
The Attorney General said that his office will evaluate all appropriate measures to represent the State and its agencies, including the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.