By Deb Courson Smith

The Exxon pipeline rupture into the Yellowstone River is being cited as a reason to give the proposed Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline new scrutiny.

The Keystone project, a much larger pipeline, also would cross the Yellowstone, along with the Missouri and 400 other waterways around the state.

Dena Hoff, a Northern Plains Resource Council member, says the Keystone project still needs solid emergency plans to protect the environment and private property:

“This can tell us what can happen, and I think that we should be planning for the worst possible scenario instead of crossing our fingers and pretending like nothing like this ever happens – because it happens all the time.”

Several irrigation intakes along the river have been shut down to keep oily pollution out of the systems. Hoff’s Glendive farm relies on the Buffalo Rapids Irrigation District, which is 200 miles downstream from the rupture. She says the irrigation is still off.

“For who knows how long. It’s getting hot. The people are getting nervous.”

The U.S. House is set to vote soon on legislation that could speed up the permit for the new Keystone pipeline. That bill would order Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to make a decision on the project by Nov. 1, without any further environmental reviews.