Secrecy on Exxon's Pegasus Probe Fuels Questions Over Keystone XL Plans

"Exxon Mobil Corp.'s bid to shield from public view its inspection results for a shuttered pipeline that leaked at least 5,000 barrels of heavy Canadian oil sands crude in Arkansas this spring is galvanizing a debate over transparency and spill readiness that could affect the future of Keystone XL."

"Federal regulators at the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration are set to decide as soon as this week whether Exxon can claim a trade secret exemption that would let it withhold inspection data for the ruptured Pegasus pipeline from Arkansas officials seeking it, including two GOP members of Congress. The immediate dispute hinges on a request from the local water utility to relocate the 96,000-barrel-per-day Pegasus following the spill, but the Arkansas conflict over Exxon's confidentiality rights echoes warnings from KXL opponents that pipeline operators are too loosely overseen to ensure safe oil transportation.

Exxon sought "confidential treatment" of both a 2010 Pegasus inspection and one completed several weeks before the March 29 spill in Mayflower, Ark., PHMSA chief Cynthia Quarterman told Arkansas lawmakers and the utility Central Arkansas Water (CAW) in a Friday letter first reported by the Arkansas Times. PHMSA must notify the oil giant if it decides to deny the trade secret request under the Freedom of Information Act and may opt to keep a close hold on the inspection data while it pursues a civil enforcement case against Exxon, agency spokesman Damon Hill said in an interview."

Elana Schor reports for EnergyWire June 27, 2013.

SEE ALSO:

"Obama State Dept. Leaving Citizens in the Dark About Exact Keystone XL Pipeline Route" (DeSmogBlog)

"ExxonMobil Keeping Quiet as Mayflower Residents Report Increasing Health Problems" (RT:4/17/13)

"InsideClimate News Reporter Threatened With Arrest at Ark. Oil Spill Site" (InsideClimate News: 4/5/13)

Source: EnergyWire, 06/28/2013