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The Enbridge pipeline in Michigan and the Exxon pipeline in Arkansas, however, are exempt because these pipelines are not considered to be carrying “conventional oil”, despite the fact bitumen spills are more expensive and more dangerous.
In a January 2011 memorandum, the IRS determined that to generate revenues for the oil spill trust fund, Congress only intended to tax conventional crude, and not tar sands or other unconventional oils. This exemption remains to this day, even though the United States moves billions of gallons of tar sands crude through its pipeline system every year. The trust fund is liable for tar sands oil spill cleanups without collecting any revenue from tar sands transport. If the fund goes broke,the American taxpayer foots the cleanup bill.
Last year, there were 364 spills from pipelines that released about 54,000 barrels of oil and refined products. In 2010 in Marshall, Michigan an Enbridge pipeline sent 819,000 gallons of toxic tar sands crude into the town’s creek just 80 river miles from Lake Michigan
Answering RT’s detailed questions, ExxonMobil stated they are paying for all costs related to the spill. However, the company didn’t reveal how much it contributes to the OSLTF, or the value of the company’s crude which is not taxed by the law.
Exxon media relations manager Alan Jeffers told RT that teams are working directly with residents of Mayflower and are “paying all valid claims relating to the spill and providing interim housing for people from the homes which the city of Mayflower recommended be evacuated following Friday's spill.”