November 16, 1998
Only the oil companies would profit
The proposed Cross Cascade Pipeline you wrote about before the elections would be a bad deal for all Washingtonians except the oil companies who are lobbying to push it through. The pipeline would cross national forests, state parks, more than 300 watercourses and hundreds of privately-owned parcels along its 230-mile trek over Snoqualmie Pass and the Cascade Mountains.
I sell real estate in rural Skamania County. There is a natural gas pipeline running the length of our county. If you have property with the pipeline going through it you have limited use of that part of your property.
You can not run a road along it, grow trees on it, build on it, drill a well near it or install a septic system on it. If you don't mow that part of your land, the pipeline company will come in and slash and spray for you, leaving a 55-foot wide brown scar across your land. Other than that, a gas pipeline isn't that big a deal. After all, if it leaks, the only risk is fire or explosion, not soil and groundwater contamination.
What if the pipeline were carrying oil or gasoline? Long pipelines always leak somewhere. What if the pipeline spills jet fuel under your neighbor's property and contaminates your well? Who's responsible? A 25,000 gallon per day leak would not even be detected until contamination was discovered. The automatic monitoring equipment would not catch it.
Risks like these are sometimes worth it. Our economy and lifestyle depend on the availability of petroleum products.
The Cross Cascade Pipeline would serve central Washington. Central Washington is a long way from wells and refineries, but the last time I was in Pasco gasoline was 89 cents a gallon, 15 cents cheaper than Vancouver, WA. Central Washington is already fully served by an oil pipeline from the east and barges from the west.
If an oil company wants to have another way to bring fuel to this market let them do it in a way that won't risk such unavoidable disasters as spilling thousands of gallons of gasoline into places like the Snoqualmie River.
Washington doesn't need a new pipeline through the mountains.
Dan Huntington, Camas, WA