There is a lot of oil in Alberta’s tar sands region, but the refineries are halfway across the continent. Getting the oil from the ground to the gas pump has been controversial — with both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines rejected by the Obama administration after fierce protests (President Trump overturned the decisions).
Now, attention has been turned to the “eastern” route – which goes through Wisconsin and Michigan, including the headwaters of the St. Croix River.
A recent special report by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel explored this problem, and what it could mean for the water in the region:
As pipeline protests have raged out West for the last decade, ever-growing volumes of North American oil have been discreetly flowing through the far more populous Great Lakes region, under its forests, rivers, ponds, wetlands, cities and towns and even, in one extreme case, across the bottom of the Great Lakes themselves.
This is the story of what could be called the Great Lakes XXL — a swelling, invisible river of oil flowing through the world’s largest freshwater system at a time when other regions on the continent are rejecting the risk of new pipelines.
Written by two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Dan Egan, the article examined the existing pipelines, the possibility of new proposals, and what it all means for the future of the region’s lakes and rivers. The feature also includes an interactive introduction to the issue.
While Line 61 can carry roughly 50 million gallons of crude oil per day (it was only proposed and approved to to carry about 17 million gallons), Enbridge is now considering a “twin” pipeline, for which they would need to expand their existing easement across public and private lands.