Planned Montana pipeline triggers oppositionAugust 30, 1998
Web posted at: 7:11 p.m. EDT (2311 GMT)
BILLINGS, Montana (CNN) -- A planned underground fuel pipeline across Montana has local environmentalists outraged. While the Yellowstone Pipeline Company says it will be safe, critics argue that the new pipeline poses a significant threat to natural resources as well as local wildlife -- including bears, wolves and fish.
The company wants to build a pipeline running almost 650 miles from Billings, Montana, to Spokane, Washington, to replace an old pipeline that carried diesel, gas and jet fuel across the Flathead Indian Reservation.
Flathead tribal officials pulled the plug on the existing pipeline after what reservation spokesman Bill Swaney described as three major and two minor spills between 1986 and 1993.
That decision came despite a company offer that would have paid the tribe about $28 million over 20 years.
The company is now using railroads to transport the fuel.
Company figures show the old pipeline spilled some 3.5 million gallons of fuel between 1954 and 1995. But a company spokesman said new spill detection technology would immediately shut down the new pipeline in case of a leak.
One local resident opposed to the project is actress Andie MacDowell, who has raised her children for the past decade in Montana's Nine Mile Valley, which would be affected by the new pipeline.
"Their supposed No. 1 proposal runs -- and this is the truth -- it runs directly through where the wolves den," she said. "These wolves were not planted here, these wolves came here on their own because of the type of habitat."
MacDowell said company representatives told her they would provide her with bottled water.
"I want to know how they're going to teach that bear and that wolf and that elk to drink out of those little bottles?" she said.
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