Exxon’s Duck-Killing Pipeline Won’t Pay Taxes To Oil Spill Cleanup Fund

A technicality has spared Exxon from having to pay any money into the fund that will be covering most of the clean up costs of its Arkansas pipeline spill.

The cleanup efforts themselves took a sobering turn as crews found injured and dead ducks covered in oil.

The environmental impacts of an oil spill in central Arkansas began to come into focus Monday as officials said a couple of dead ducks and 10 live oily birds were found after an ExxonMobil Corp. pipeline ruptured last week.

“I’m an animal lover, a wildlife lover, as probably most of the people here are,” Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson told reporters. “We don’t like to see that. No one does.”

Exxon has confirmed that the pipeline was carrying “low-quality Wabasca Heavy crude oil from Alberta.” This oil comes from the region of Alberta where the controversial tar sands are located. Heavy crude is strip mined or boiled loose from dense underground formations that often contain a large amount of bitumen. This oil is very thick and needs to be diluted with lighter fluids in order to flow through pipelines. Reports have stated that at least 12,000 barrels of oil and water spilled into the town.

A 1980 law ensures that diluted bitumen is not classified as oil, and companies transporting it in pipelines do not have to pay into the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. Other conventional crude producers pay 8 cents a barrel to ensure the fund has resources to help clean up some of the 54,000 barrels of pipeline oil that spilled 364 times last year.

As Oil Change International said in a statement today:

“The great irony of this tragic spill in Arkansas is that the transport of tar sands oil through pipelines in the US is exempt from payments into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. Exxon, like all companies shipping toxic tar sands, doesn’t have to pay into the fund that will cover most of the clean up costs for the pipeline’s inevitable spills.”

Whatever you call it, as Judge Dodson says, “Crude oil is crude oil. None of it is real good to touch.”

The smell of the spilled oil (similar to asphalt) has reached residents five miles out in the country, and will likely keep residents of 22 nearby homes evacuated for several days.
Surreal video:

The Enbridge tar sands pipeline spill in Michigan happened in 2010 and parents are still concerned about the long-term health effects of having such toxic substances seep into areas where children play.


As commenter Zimzone rightly points out, the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would indeed be carrying the type of heavy, corrosive diluted bitumen unconventional oil from the same region of Canada. It is unclear how many people who live along the path of KXL know that the roughly 575 barrels of oil per minute that could be passing through their neighborhoods wouldn’t be paying taxes to this cleanup fund. Exxon may have even less to worry about, as Alaska looks to lower its tax bill even further, while one state representative absolves the company of guilt for the Exxon Valdez spill.

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43 Responses to Exxon’s Duck-Killing Pipeline Won’t Pay Taxes To Oil Spill Cleanup Fund

  1. Zimzone says:

    Isn’t the Keystone XL pipeline also going to transport tar sand oil, or diluted bitumen?

    I certainly think the States designated to have that pipeline run through them should be aware of this ‘regulation’. (Or lack thereof.)

  2. lets see the courts reduced the fines exxon was gonna pay by hunderds of millions now alaska is gonna show them even more love…just remeber this is the state that elected sh@t for brains sahra pailin

  3. DallasNE says:

    Lobbyist’s are worth their weight in gold to corporate America. My guess is that this exemption was put in there when they were looking to build a coal-slurry pipeline from Powder River, WY to Arkansas for a power plant. That was wisely killed but we still live with the bitumen exception. And another reason we need sunset provisions written into laws like this. One would think that a responsible company would not want to be allowed to operate outside the law because of the public relations aspects but I guess I give too much credit to corporate America for wanting to be responsible.

  4. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Their only responsibility is to make money for shareholders, ME

  5. Jackie says:

    After paying off Law Makers and people who just don’t know any better accept hate Obama things will be destroyed and the oil companies will move on to another country. Obama said it could hurt the heartland but so many people hate him they would rather destroy the United States then allow the President to save the land. Even now paid Law Makers are saying the Alaska spill wasn’t the oil companies fault and who knows how it happen and just move on, This current spill will be blamed on worms and you can bet people will believe it.

  6. rollin says:

    As with any irresponsible child, there needs to be consequences. In the case of ExMo they need to be BIG consequences to alter future action.
    Instead we enable them to continue their actions. Disfunctional.

  7. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Let us hope that there is, despite the appearances otherwise, a ‘just and vengeful’ God, just waiting for these creatures.

  8. Merrelyn Emery says:

    You had better start rewriting all your laws. These people take the laws absolutely literally, ME

  9. merrill eugene says:

    Would you please update your video footage to show just how spread out this spill has become? This really needs more attention than the news media is allowing

    Copter footage by a ‘video journalist’

  10. katy says:

    “… the transport of tar sands oil through pipelines in the US is exempt from payments into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. ”

    yep. that’s gonna have to change. now.

  11. katy says:

    “these people” WRITE the laws…

  12. Jeff Lewis says:

    Actually, the core reason is for narrow profits to the corporate officials. The true function of shareholders is to provide ‘cover’ for the criminals; their involvement somehow dilutes and dissolves accountability. Action ‘A’ produces outcome ‘B’, a few come away rich, and everyone can pretend they are not at fault.

  13. Whitney says:

    Surely Exxon will step up and do the right thing……

  14. shawn says:

    they are gonna run the XL right over the largest fresh water aquifer in N america called the Ogalala Aquifer, look it up, how can people be so blatently stupid. and why do they not build the refineries near the source, it would save the trouble,controversy,disasters. i just dont get it.

  15. CRing says:

    Since they don’t care, then BOYCOTT THEM!!!
    show them how you’re pissed off at their lack of taking responsibility for their mess up by not buying from them.

  16. Dan Anders says:

    Merrelyn Emery- my only responsibility is to literally propose the idea that you’re not a very cool person, not at all, DM

  17. Donna Crane says:

    Congress needs to change the law. Personally I’d rather see them deny access to Keystone XL at all but if that doesn’t happen, we need to change that law right now to make them pay tax per barrel of oil across our country. Charge them 24 cents a barrel to deal with spills, which is 3 times what regular oil spills cost oil companies, who only pay 8 cents a barrel insurance against spills. These spills are far more damaging than a regular oil spill and virtually impossible to clean up.

  18. Gary Strawley says:

    Why would you exspect oil companys to help when they OWN the gop congress! They say let the people pay!!!! Wake Up Silly!!!!
    Pay attention to the truth PLEASE!!!!

    It is just about LOBBIST MONEY!!!!

  19. Perky Green says:

    The way they are ruining our Country is CRIMINAL.They need to completely rebuild their infrastructure and be required to pay all clean up expenses as they can damn well afford it. As for the Keystone line, HELL NO. How much more damage will the government allow them to do? This goes far beyond making a BUCK. The repercussions are too great.Congress is just too anxious to get involved with other countries policies it is time for them to take an interest in our country and our policies and restore our country to its origional grandure.

  20. Lese Majeste says:

    That exemption will make tons of money for the multibillionaire Koch Brothers who own the Texas refinery that the Alberta oil will be going to thru the XL pipeline.

    Isn’t America great!

  21. james says:

    Douch bagg judge. I wonder if he has any stock in Exxon. I guess the media won’t tackle the issue because of Rupert Murdoch’s fear of retribution. He’s afraid of them and Mansanto.Typical.

  22. lakeBoy says:

    Sure they can make money, but they also have a civic responsibility to all they do business with. Capitalism is not an open door to destroy anything without any obligation to humans and their enviroment.

  23. Frank says:

    But hasn’t Exxon undoubtedly paid into the fund? Bitumen isn’t the only type of oil that Exxon ships around….

  24. Michael R says:

    If bitumen isn’t oil and they don’t have to pay into the fund, why is the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund covering the cleanup? You’ve just established that bitumen isn’t oil (as they are not paying) therefore it should be the company that is entirely responsible on their own for the cleanup. Exxon can’t have it both ways.

  25. BobA says:

    And meanwhile, poor Exxon is only making $104 million dollars a day from your higher gas prices. Time to pull the plug.

  26. Homeowners out of their homes for days!? Think it’s gonna be a little longer than that.

  27. Tami Kennedy says:

    I bet the lawyer providing the wording for this loophole for the oil industry isn’t swimming in anything but green.

  28. eddie1247 says:

    A perfect example of citizens united,see corporations are people. Just sleazy,thieving,greedy,uncaring people.

  29. Grant Harmon says:

    So if we go spill 42 gallons (1 barrel) of oil in the lobby or boardroom of an oil company we can pay them 8 cents and call it good?

  30. fj says:

    yep, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck . . . devil’s excrement

  31. John Hartz says:

    When was this exemption enacted into law?

    Did Dick Cheney have a hand in getting it passed?

  32. on40acres says:

    They have NIMBY syndrome. Refinerys cause air polution.

  33. R Jackson says:

    Well, just think, if they had to clean it up it might affect EXXON’s profit margin. So I am sure that our lovely congress, particularly the House of Representatives, will be in no hurry in dealing with it…while meanwhile the state of AR has to clean it up on their own dime. If we make them pay for it, then Exxon will stop hiring people. Can you say POLITICAL EXTORTION?

  34. Merrelyn Emery says:

    What is that supposed to mean? ME

  35. Merrelyn Emery says:

    That’s the practical outcome and shareholders vote more money for the executives because they believe the myth that the additional $ will keep them motivated to do better for the shareholders, ME

  36. hofeizai says:

    I’m happy to see that the promise that the pipeline would create jobs will be fulfilled. Every time toxins flood a neighborhood, someone will be paid to clean it up. Thanks Exxon!

  37. Kim Feil says:

    Bitumen KILLS PEOPLE…ask the 10 or 11 dead citizens in the one mobile home park from the 2010 Kalamazoo spill.

  38. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Dan, are you going to explain or defend this ad hominen remark or don’t you have the courage? ME

  39. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Share-holding is very concentrated amongst the parasite caste, with the financial interests paramount. Larcenous salaries and bonuses result from a conspiracy amongst the kleptocrats to steal from the rest of humanity to enrich themselves. The ‘Mum and Dad’ shareholders, or the sainted ‘Self-funded Retirees’ have no say.

  40. Sandy says:

    NIMBY and they need to get it into a tanker to take it to China. The Gulf can do both.

  41. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Capitalism is just such an ‘open door’. Without the destruction of life and its conversion into money, capitalism disappears. Much of what is claimed as ‘capitalist creativity’ is in reality the hard slog of billions of ruthlessly exploited workers, the pillage of irreplaceable natural resources (hydrocarbon energy in particular) and technological and scientific advances. Capitalism, in fact, acting as a parasitic incubus upon humanity, has held us back, not just materially, but spiritually as well. The capitalist ethos of ‘Greed is Good’ and that other people are enemies, or competition at best, has been humanity’s most deadly spiritual wound.

  42. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    That would be ‘paw’, not hand.

  43. TJ says:

    The court of law may not require Exxon to pay, but the court of public opinion still has to issue its ruling. Keep talking about it – Facebook, Twitter, petitions, letters to the editor, etc. Exxon needs to know that even if not legally required, they are morally required to contribute substantially to the clean-up.