POLITICS
04/03/2013 09:42 am ET Updated Apr 03, 2013

Tim Griffin, Arkansas GOP Rep, Stands By Keystone After Mayflower Oil Spill

Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.) said Wednesday that he wasn't backing off his support of the Keystone XL pipeline, just five days after an ExxonMobil pipeline rupture forced the evacuation of more than 20 homes in his district.

"Well, first of all, pipelines, despite this accident -- just like we have car accidents -- despite this accident, pipelines are the safest way to move oil, to move energy products. They are safer then moving it in trucks … and they are safer than putting them on a train," Griffin told local radio station 96.5 FM. "The fact is, I don’t think anyone has quit driving their car, using plastics in their home, or flying on airplanes since this spill. And as long as we need energy, we are going to need energy. And we have to find the safest way to deliver it. And this is a horrible accident but pipelines are the safest way [to transport oil]."

The pipeline released up to 10,000 barrels of oil into Mayflower, Ark., when it burst Friday, prompting the evacuation of 22 homes. Exxon Mobil reversed the pipeline to carry heavy Canadian crude from Illinois to Texas in 2006, because of increased production and the Gulf Coast's ability to process the fuel.

Griffin cited former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel's maxim to never let a good crisis go to waste, saying that opponents of Keystone are using the Friday spill for their agenda against the project. "I think some people are trying to say, well if there is a car crash no more cars ... if there is an accident with a pipeline, more no pipelines ... If we follow that logic, we are all going to be riding bicycles. That might be fine for some folks but it may take a while to get to Memphis on a bicycle," he said.

The Mayflower spill has drawn obvious parallels to the proposed Keystone XL project, which would carry Canadian tar sands crude from Alberta to Texas through the heartland of America. The Huffington Post's Lynne Peeples reported Monday that a leak was possible within 50 years of the pipeline's creation, and even if safety systems stopped it within minutes, it could cause damage.

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