Will $12 million restore the Yellowstone River after ExxonMobil oil pipeline spill?

In 2011, a ruptured ExxonMobil pipeline dumped an estimated 63,000 gallons — about 1,500 barrels — of oil into the Yellowstone River.

The Yellowstone River is a tributary of the Missouri River, approximately 692 miles (1,114 km) long, in the western United States.

Considered the principal tributary of the upper Missouri, the river and its tributaries drain a wide area stretching from the Rocky Mountains in the vicinity of the Yellowstone National Park across the mountains and high plains of southern Montana and northern Wyoming.

Buying land along the Yellowstone River, removing riprap or building a boat ramp at Billings’ Riverfront Park are just a few of the ideas being considered as ways to spend a $12 million damage settlement proposed by ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. for the oil spill.

The ideas are outlined in a draft restoration plan with a percentage of the settlement costs allocated to “preferred restoration types” including:

  • $3.56 million for terrestrial and riparian habitat;
  • $2.09 million for large woody debris piles;
  • $2.64 for aquatic habitat;
  • $400,000 for American white pelicans; and
  • $2.41 million for public recreation.

The proposals are meant to restore or replace some of the natural resources lost or injured after the oil pipeline ruptured near Laurel, Montana during high water, according to David Rouse, an environmental contaminant specialist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Helena.

Photo of Yellowstone River at Paradise valley by Warrenfish via Wikipedia.

See full article by Brett French in the Billings Gazette.

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