Big Pipeline Project Threatens Environment in Azerbaijan, Turkey

BP and 10 other companies are plotting to build a 1,000-mile pipeline to carry oil from Baku, Azerbaijan, to Ceyhan, Turkey, at a cost of up to $4 billion. The project is enthusiastically backed by the U.S. government, which is on the lookout for new sources of crude outside the Middle East. Environmentalists and human-rights campaigners are warning that the pipeline, which would traverse unstable and conflict-ridden regions, would cause a raft of environmental and social problems, threatening old-growth forests, the Caspian Sea, and wildlife and plants in a number of different habitats, as well as destroying the livelihoods of farmers and fishers along the pipeline route. Critics also argue that running a massive pipeline through earthquake-prone Turkey is just asking for trouble. The World Bank will vote this week on whether to approve a $300 million loan for the project.