The Bush administration has asked for $98 million to help protect Colombia’s Cano Limon oil pipeline from attacks by leftist guerrillas. The pipeline, which is owned by Occidental Petroleum, supplies crude oil to the U.S. and has the capacity to pump 240,000 barrels a day. But constant attacks — 13 so far this year — have reduced its flow to a trickle. More than 2.5 million barrels of Cano Limon crude (roughly 10 times the amount spilled by the ExxonValdez) have leaked into Colombia’s rivers and onto rangelands in the last 15 years, sickening people and poisoning water sources and animals. If approved by Congress, the pipeline protection would ratchet up U.S. involvement in Colombia’s power struggle between Marxist rebels, ultra-right paramilitary groups, and the government. U.S. officials called the request a part of a broad effort to foster democracy and order in the troubled nation.

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