The damage to wildlife because of the ExxonMobil oil spill in the Yellowstone River seems small. Only about 20 critters have been observed covered with oil, but that count is misleading according to wildlife biologist Doug Inkley at the National Wildlife Federation. He says to tally up the real damage, one needs to look “in” the river – not just along the riverbanks.

Exxon has promised to keep crews working along the river until the spill is cleaned up. Inkley provides perspective on how that has played out at hundreds of other oil spills…

Inkley says based on the environmental conditions after similar spills, public health needs strong protection downstream.

A U-S Senate subcommittee held a hearing on the Yellowstone spill on Wednesday. Inkley testified before a similar House subcommittee hearing, and called for stronger federal safety regulations. He says that’s critically important as the Keystone XL pipeline is considered, which would also cross the Yellowstone, as well as the Missouri and hundreds of other waterways.