Due to the continuing increase of crude oil extraction from unconventional sources, such as the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota and the Alberta tar sands, crude oil now moves through the Great Lakes in unprecedented quantities. The overwhelming majority of this oil is moved through pipelines, but production has begun to outpace pipeline capacity. This has put pressure on other forms of transportation – rail, truck, and ship – to meet this new capacity. Crude oil transportation provides important energy resources to many Great Lakes states and creates economic opportunities for the region. However, increased safety concerns related to these alternative transportation modes, alongside aging and inadequate infrastructure, present a risk to the Great Lakes and other critical northern watersheds in the U.S. and Canada. To preserve the economic and environmental security of the Great Lakes region, careful consideration needs to be given toward the benefits, drawbacks, and risks of each transportation mode. This page contains links to resources that relate to oil transportation issues in the region. To learn more about each mode of crude oil transportation, use the icons below.


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