That massive store of energy has touched off political feuds in the U.S. over a proposed 1,700-mile pipeline to funnel crude oil to the Gulf of Mexico.
But fights over Canada’s oil sands could have an impact much closer to home. One company is hoping to boost oil-sands shipments to Asia through Northwest waters plans that would quadruple tanker traffic through Vancouver, B.C., and dramatically increase the amount of oil traveling through the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Some of the tankers the company hopes to accommodate could carry four times more crude than the Exxon Valdez, the supertanker that spilled 11 million gallons of crude into Prince William Sound.
The company has taken only initial steps toward this goal, but that’s enough to make some anxious about oil-spill risks.
“We’re talking about some of the most massive marine vessels transiting some of the most narrow and biologically productive waters in our region,” said activist Fred Felleman, who monitors oil transport through the strait. “And nobody really seems to know about this yet.”
The economy vs the environment