There has been a lot of focus in the last couple years about the proposed, in some places completed, XL Pipeline project. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the project, it is a plan to pump bitumen sands from the Alberta Tar Sands, amongst other extraction operations, across the U.S. to the Gulf Coast. This is a controversial project that has alarmed environmentalists and served as the poster child for dirty oil and how a stronger push for alternative energy is of greater need than ever before. While the fight over the XL Pipeline is still a huge battleground for environmentalists and landowners across the continent, many other noteworthy projects have been slipping through the cracks. On April 14, Keith Matheny of the Detroit Free Press released an informative article about a “new venture [that] would nearly double the amount of crude oil shipped on a major pipeline from Canada to Lake Superior — transporting more oil than the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that has caused an environmental outcry and fierce debate in Congress” (Matheny 2013). A second project also calls for a refinery to be built on the shores of Lake Superior, allowing the shipment of 13 million barrels of crude oil a year (ibid).
This is an article that should be particularly concerning to people in my home state of Michigan, who remember the 2010 Enbridge oil spill in the Kalamazoo River, the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history. The spill caused an estimated $1 billion dollars worth of damage and counting (ibid). To go forth with this project would be to accept the reality of inevitable contamination in the Great Lakes Basin. The only real question is how severe.
Source: Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press, April 14, 2013