The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Monday, September 1, 2014

Increasing amount of Tar Sands oil coming into Great Lakes

I live in Battle Creek, Michigan, just a few miles downstream from the largest (~1 million gallons) tar sands oil disaster ever spilled on American soil.

Enbridge Energy was responsible for this spill in 2011, and they have been cleaning it up for the past four years. They tried to walk away from the job claiming it was complete last year, but the EPA called them back to continue efforts to remove the heavy oil sludge that had settled to the river bottom.

Info about this spill and clean-up here.

Enbridge has just received approval to almost double the amount of tar sands oil flowing through their pipeline that terminates in Superior, Wisconsin, on the shores of Lake Superior.

Info on this approval and how it was obtained is here.

A larger problem with the mining and transport of this oil product -- beyond the fact that is much more difficult and detrimental to our environment to refine than oil from other sources -- is that Canada is allowing the destruction of their boreal forests 
to reach these oil sands.

The boreal forests are one of the largest natural carbon dioxide "sinks" in the world. These temperate forests constantly remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen.

For more info on this, watch this TED Talk here

I fear that we will reach a point where the cascade of environmental destruction will be irreversible. Where the change in our atmosphere will reach a tipping point and all of our efforts to backpedal will be pointless.

This latest move by the State Department to approve this increase in flow of tar sands oil into the Great Lakes is a bad decision even if there is never a spill into the Great Lakes.

If there is a large spill, 
then the decision may well be catastrophic.

It is one thing to clean up a river (it takes years and costs about a billion dollars -- details here), but how would one restore the Great Lakes once a million gallons of tar sands oil -- or more --  corrupts the largest fresh water system in the world?

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