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What's missing in the Great Lakes Commission's Draft report on transport of crude oil?

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Photo: Islands in the St Lawrence/flickr (modified)

At the end of September, the Great Lakes Commission released its Draft report on transport of crude oil in Great Lakes region, which provides an overview of the increase of crude oil transportation in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River region. The Commission gave stakeholders 60 days to provide comment on the Draft report. The final report will be formally released at the Commission's 2015 semiannual meeting on February 24-25, 2015 in Washington, D.C. Thirty organizations signed a collective submission to the Great Lakes Commission outlining gaps in the draft report including:

  • The report incorrectly assumes increased future development of oil sources
  • Recommendations to address inadequate oil spill response preparedness needed
  • Great Lakes governments must fulfill their public trust duties to protect water resources
  • Respect for Indigenous communities and treaty rights
  • The Great Lakes economy and tourism industry
  • Environmentally sensitive areas
  • Many simultaneous proposals for additional transportation
  • Cumulative stresses, climate change and clean energy

The organizations urged the Great Lakes Commission "to include these critical issues in its final report and support the transition to a clean energy economy rather than our current fossil fuel dependence." To read the letter, click here.

The Council of Canadians/Blue Planet Project made a more detailed submission raising additional points including:

  • an increase in extreme energy projects against a backdrop of cumulative stresses
  • plans to transport tar sands crude
  • free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous communities
  • protecting the Great Lakes as a commons, public trust and protected bio-region
  • the lack of an adequate spill response
  • sustainable, green jobs

The Council of Canadians urged the Great Lakes Commission to "support a ban all transport of tar sands bitumen and fracked oil on, under and near the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River" and an end to "our dependency on extreme energy while we transform to a sustainable energy future." To read the Council's submission, click here.

There are at least three plans to transport bitumen by tanker around the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. Calumet is planning on building an oil terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. A critical part of TransCanada's Energy East pipeline project is to construct a marine terminal on the eastern shore of the St. Lawrence River to load supertankers with 700,000 to 1.1 million barrels of tar sands bitumen for export. The terminal would be located in a habitat critical for the endangered beluga whale.

This fall, Suncor was the first company to transport bitumen on the St. Lawrence River. Suncor has recently stopped the tar sands shipments due to the low price of oil, but they are expected to resume when prices go up. Be sure to sign this petition to make sure governments know we want them to stop Suncor's shipments for good.

To read Maude Barlow's new report, Liquid Pipeline: Extreme energy's threat to the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River, click here.

To sign the petition calling for a ban on extreme energy in the Great Lakes, click here.

Photo: Islands in the St Lawrence/flickr (modified)

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