Update: There is an excellent blog post on change.org discussing the spill and the urgency of pipeline regulations.

On Friday night, an ExxonMobil oil pipeline under the Yellowstone River broke, spilling thousands of gallons of oil. The Yellowstone River in Montana is the longest undammed river in the United States. It is also known for its trout fishing and bird life, which attracts tourists. The oil-ridden waters will also affect neighboring farmers and ranchers. The 42,000 gallons of oil have since spread at least 15 miles, affecting neighboring farmers and ranchers.

Pipelines account for 16 times more spills than ocean drilling in the United States. The U.S. Department of Transportation notified Exxon Mobil in July 2010 of seven potential safety violations and other problems along the pipeline. Exxon Mobil did nothing, and the U.S. government did not hold them accountable. This is from a company that only pays a 2.6% tax rate!

Members of the affected communities have already begun to suffer from illnesses such as “acute hydrocarbon exposure.” To make matters worse, flooding has delayed the cleanup process. Exxon has since said that they will do “whatever is necessary” to cleanup the spill, but they have to wait for the river to subside.

Our thoughts are with the members of the affected communities, wildlife and ecosystems in Montana. But we need to make sure this never happens again. Tell President Barack Obama, the Department of Transportation and the Department of the Interior to add teeth to their regulations and not hesitate to fine violators like Exxon Mobil.