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Tell the DNR shipping tar sands oil over our Great Lakes is too dangerous!

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With America’s ongoing dependence on oil, the industry continues to look for more opportunities to ship dirty tar sands oil from Canada into the United States. As a result, Wisconsin will see increased proposals to ship tar sands oil and by rail. Now, there is a proposal to ship tar sands oil by barge across Lake Superior to refineries in the eastern United States.

Elkhorn Industries has applied to repair their dock in Superior, Wisconsin to allow operator Calumet Superior to store 150,000 barrels of oil onshore and ship 13 million barrels of dirty, tar sands oil across Lake Superior every year.  Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) is taking comments on whether to allow or deny this risky $25 million project.  The deadline for emailing comments is December 6, 2013. 

Here are some talking points to include in your comments, along with your personal Great Lakes experience:

  • The DNR Should require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the overall proposal to ship tar sands across the Great Lakes rather than reviewing and permitting each portion of this project in a piecemeal fashion.
  • Shipping tar sands oil over water poses a significant threat to Lake Superior, a treasure that belongs to everyone in Wisconsin.
  • As the largest source of fresh water on the planet, the Great Lakes are too important to risk a spill.  They supply drinking water to 42 million people.
  • Tar sand oil is much denser than traditional oil, making it much harder to clean up as the sediments settle to the bottom of waterways. 
  • In 2010, a pipeline spilled tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.  This devastating spill surpassed the $1 billion mark for clean-up earlier this year and is still not done.  Three years later, the Environmental Protection Agency has ordered more dredging of oil in the river.  No one has successfully cleaned up a tar sands oil spill in a waterway.  Lake Superior is much too important to be the next guinea pig for tar sands oil clean-up.
  • A new report, Oil and Water: Tar Sand Crude Shipping Meets the Great Lakes? By the Alliance for the Great Lakes found that the methods for locating and recovering submerged oil is inadequate.
  • Toxic air pollution from vented emissions of the crude oil poses air quality concerns for those living near the dock.
  • The endangered Piping Plover, Whooping Cranes, and other sensitive species could be devastated by a spill.
  • Tar sands oil is a monumental contributor to climate change.  The processing is incredibly carbon intensive and contains more carbon than traditional oil.  Additionally, tar sands oil is found beneath the boreal forest in Alberta, which is critical for carbon sequestration as it stores up to 22% of the carbon on the Earth’s surface.
  • In addition to the WDNR, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should review this proposal under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act and/or the Rivers and Harbors Act.

Thanks for taking action to protect our climate and our Great Lakes for future generations!


  • Steven LaValley, DNR


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Shipping tar sands across Lake Superior is too risky

Dear Mr. LaValley,

[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]