In the midst of a pristine boreal forest in Alberta, Canada, strip mining continues for tar sands oil. Close-by, downstream, is the earth’s largest freshwater delta, a critical stopover for over a million migrating waterfowl.
The oil is presently transported in large (30-inch) pipes into the United States. Pipelines cross rivers, and travel near lakes and wetlands. In 2010, a ruptured tar sands pipeline near Kalamazoo, Michigan drenched waterways with over one million gallons of oil, the largest inland spill in U.S. history.
Tar sands oil companies plan to extend these pipelines across Canada, from the U.S. Midwest into Texas, as well as from Quebec through Vermont to Maine. Their goal is to reach a North American coast in order to export the oil.
At every point in the chain of production and transportation, water is at risk. The water we drink, the water we fish, the only water we have.