Tar Sands Pipeline Proposal Has Canadians Scared after Disastrous Michigan Spill
Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation blasted Enbridge for “too little focus on safety” that led to a disastrous tar sands oil spill in Michigan two years ago, and compared the company’s response to the “Keystone cops." It could be a taste of things to come for Ontario, since the pipeline company wants to ship tar sands oil through the province.
Environmental Defence called on Ontario to protect its rivers and lakes from oil spills, noting that a tar sands oil spill is harder to clean up than normal oil. Enbridge is facing fines for 24 pipeline safety violations in Michigan, and as such, shouldn’t be given the okay to transport tar sands oil through its aging Line 9 pipeline. The company wants to change the direction of this pipeline so it can ship tar sands oil east from Sarnia.
“We can’t sit back and trust Enbridge to protect our water given their behaviour in Michigan. But with federal rules now weaker, we’re asking the province to protect Ontario’s land and water from a dangerous tar sands oil spill,” said Gillian McEachern of Environmental Defence. “If an oil spill happens, people will look to the province to clean up the mess, so we’re asking them to be proactive now.”
In just the first leg of the Line 9 pipeline, 357 ‘crack-like features’ were detected during the last inspection, which led to the rupture in Michigan. In light of the damning U.S. government findings into Enbridge’s safety track record, McEachern said there’s reason to be alarmed.
“The U.S. government found repeated instances of disregard for safety. The simple fact is if Enbridge can’t ship tar sands oil safely in Michigan, why would it in Ontario?” McEachern asked. “This company hasn’t earned a blank cheque to put Ontario’s land and water at risk of a dangerous tar sands oil spill.”
The review of the Line 9 proposal is being handled by the National Energy Board. To date, it has failed to consider whether there’s an increased risk of oil spills due to shipping raw tar sands oil through Line 9, and what the impact of a spill would be. Yet the Michigan spill has shown that tar sands oil is harder clean up and has more serious health and environmental impacts than normal oil when it does spill. Among these is that unlike normal oil, tar sands oil sinks instead of floating when spilled into water.
Environmental Defence sent a letter to Environment Minister Jim Bradley today asking the province to investigate these risks given the number of rivers the Line 9 pipeline crosses. These include the Grand, Credit, Rouge and Trent. The pipeline also runs very close to the Great Lakes.
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
- San Antonio, Texas Unveils Largest Highway Crossing for Wildlife in ... ›
- Wildlife Crossings a Huge Success - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
- Climate Change Will Be Sudden and Cataclysmic Unless We Act Now ›
- There's a Heatwave at the Arctic 'Doomsday Vault' - EcoWatch ›
- Marine Heatwaves Destroy Ocean Ecosystems Like Wildfires ... ›
By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
- Biden Reaffirms Commitment to Rejoining Paris Agreement ... ›
- Biden Likely Plans to Cancel Keystone XL Pipeline on Day One ... ›
- Joe Biden Appoints Climate Crisis Team - EcoWatch ›