LAKE MILLS — A firefighter displaying a self-contained breathing apparatus discussed the first 15 minutes after a pipeline rupture, attorney/farmer Chris Gutschenritter addressed easements and eminent domain, and a full-standing mock-up of a 42-inch pipeline were all part of an informational event Thursday in Lake Mills relating to a proposed additional Enbridge Energy Co. Tar Sands oil pipeline that might run through Jefferson County.
Elizabeth Ward from Sierra Club was also in attendance, as were Marybeth Elliot, a toxicologist, who discussed gases related to such pipelines and Sarah Zarling of CARS in Watertown talked of transportation of crude oil by rail.
Event organizer Ronni Monroe spoke regarding her safety kit project.
“I personally sewed more than 300 flags for the kits and visited over 300 homes to deliver them to folks along the pipeline,” Monroe said. “We are focusing on issues that the landowners and nearby pipeline dwellers will have to deal with.”
The meeting was held, in part, to discuss the status of a Brave Wisconsin (formerly Wisconsin Tar Sands Action Coalition) effort to stop the addition of a fifth Enbridge Energy Co. oil or natural gas pipeline through the south-central Wisconsin region and Jefferson County in particular.
According to information provided by event organizers at a previous meeting, the Global Conservation Group has made the effort to join forces with Brave Wisconsin and Wisconsin Safe Energy Alliance to defeat a proposed expansion of Pipeline 61.
“Pipeline 61, larger than that of the Keystone XL Pipeline, can affect the city of Watertown in the event of a leak,” information provided by the groups stated. “The pipeline will cut through just west of Lake Mills and Fort Atkinson spanning the entire state. The company that owns the pipeline, Enbridge, is seeking to expand it.”
They said in the event of a leak or break, oil could be distributed as far as 32 miles away, negatively affecting the city of Watertown and its residents.
“The environmental destruction alone that this project poses is simply not worth the risk,” they said. “Enbridge, a Canadian company, has a bad track record of safety, as they have been found guilty of more than 100 environmental violations in 14 Wisconsin counties.”
Monroe said that since a previous meeting held in March of 2015, her group has changed its name to Brave Wisconsin. She also said she distributed her safety kits in Dane, Jefferson and Rock counties, with a few making it up to Columbia County.
Approximately 150 people attended Thursday night’s meeting and seemed to be from the rural Jefferson County area, as opposed to Madison, as they were at the March 2015 meeting.
The Line 66 pipeline expansion in Jefferson County is proposed for completion in 2019 unless landowners who oppose it are successful in individual litigation against it. “The meeting went very well,” Monroe said. “It exceeded our expectations.”