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Ban crude oil transit

October 1st, 2015 | Posted by admin

Save The River has been fighting to protect the vulnerable and fragile natural and human environment on the St. Lawrence River for its entire 37-year history. Recent efforts by the Seaway corporations to market the River as a highway for crude oil have caused us to increase our focus on the threat these cargoes pose to the River. What we have learned is alarming.

Although refined petroleum products are currently transported on the Great Lakes, crude oil is not. Two very different and very dangerous types of crude are poised to transit the St. Lawrence River. One, Bakken crude, is extremely volatile, even explosive as seen in numerous “bomb train” incidents in recent years. The other, tar sands oil, is heavy enough to sink in freshwater where, with current technology it is unrecoverable.

Shipping on the St. Lawrence River has long been an all-risk and no-reward proposition, and the shipment of crude oil will exponentially increase the risk to our environment, our economy and our communities.  Having suffered a major oil spill on the St. Lawrence River, we know all too well the risks involved with even traditional cargoes.  As pressure increases to bring these dangerous cargoes to the waters of the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes, we must take steps to protect our River before it’s too late.

For these reasons, Save The River enthusiastically supports the Pipeline Improvement and Preventing Spills Act, introduced in the U.S. Senate this week. If passed, it will ban the shipment of crude oil by vessel on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. The authors, Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow (MI) deserve to be commended. Their bill, in addition to banning the shipment of crude oil, requires a comprehensive, top-to-bottom review of hazardous pipelines in the region, compels an assessment of oil spill response and cleanup plans, and requires that ice cover be part of worst-case scenarios in response plans.

Once crude oil is in a ship’s hold headed for the St. Lawrence it will be too late. Now is the time to prevent the next catastrophic spill from happening. The best way to do that is to keep cargoes the Coast Guard admits it doesn’t know how to handle off the water entirely. The Pipeline Improvement and Preventing Spills Act should be supported by every member of New York’s Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River congressional delegation as a way to preserve and protect the St. Lawrence River now and for future generations.

Letter to the Editor by Lee Willbanks
Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper / Executive Director

Published by the Thousand Islands Sun on September 30th, 2015

Click here to see the print article.

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