Oil tankers have delivered North Slope crude for decades through the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and although that history hasn’t been spill-free, we’ve come to accept that traffic, governed by federal law, as an acceptable risk.
Would it be acceptable if tanker traffic increased sevenfold, from one a week to one a day?
That could happen if Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion brings Alberta tar-sands oil across the Canadian border to Puget Sound, destined for export to Asia, according to Canadian media reports.
Tar-sands oil is a heavy crude that must be diluted with lighter oil to flow in a pipe.
If spilled on the water, the diluent will evaporate, but the heavy crude will eventually sink, endangering habitat for crabs, bottom fish, shellfish, salmon, even orcas, according to an article in Scientific American.
Our local economy is at risk, too, not just from a spill but from the idea that this is not a healthy, safe place to live.
Think about the Deepwater Horizon.
All of us can play a role in stopping this pipeline: Ask big banks like Wells Fargo, Chase and US Bank to stop financing pipeline projects and put their money into something less risky.
Dollar for dollar, clean energy creates more jobs than fossil fuels, and solar panels and windmills won’t leave a mess on the beach.
If the banks don’t get the message and continue to profit at our risk, it’s our option to divest and put our money in banks that don’t fund future oil spills.
You have a choice.
For more information, see oly climate.org.
Grad is a member of the executive committee of Olympic Climate Action.