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Dec. 26 decision expected on Elkhorn dock proposal

On December 6, Council of Canadians campaigner Emma Lui wrote the Wisconsin Ministry of Natural Resources to ask them to stop a proposed dock project that would allow for the construction of an oil terminal and the eventual transportation of crude oil on the Great Lakes.

Earlier this year Calumet Specialty Products announced it was considering an oil shipping terminal at the harbour in Superior, Wisconsin, which is located on the western tip of Lake Superior. That same week, Elkhorn Industries submitted a permit application for a $25 million upgrade to their dock which is connected by an existing pipeline to Calumet’s 45,000 barrels per day refinery in Superior.

There is speculation that with the dock and oil terminal in place, about 35,000 barrels per day of oil from there could be transported on the Great Lakes as of 2015. The National Post reports, “An oil terminal would allow Canadian crude to travel from Wisconsin across Lake Superior to Lake Michigan, and on to refineries in Whiting, Ind., Lemont, Ill., and possibly Detroit, Mich., near Lake Erie. Other potential destinations could include Sarnia, Ont., on Lake Huron, or even East Coast refineries, (according to the Alliance for Great Lakes).” And, “While the Great Lakes is a conduit for petroleum products, crude petroleum makes up less than 1% of that figure, according to data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.”

Lui says in her letter to the Wisconsin Ministry of Natural Resources, “We ask you to carefully examine this project in its entirety and the threats that it poses to the Great Lakes. We urge you to stop this dock repair project and shut down the broader oil terminal and shipment project in order to protect the Great Lakes and other shared waterways.” And she raised a number of concerns, including the increase in tar sands crude being transported to and across the Lakes, the potential for oil spills, and the need to obtain free, prior and informed consent from the Bad River Band of Lake Superior and other communities.

In late November, WDIO reported, “The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources tentatively approved the dock repairs, and a final decision should come within a month (by the end of December). Those repairs could start in May or June. Officials said the permit would only approve dock repairs, any future use of the property (notably oil shipments on the Great Lakes) would need to be approved as well. In the past, Calumet officials have said shipping oil on the Great Lakes would require Coast Guard approval.”

Today, the National Post reported more specifically, “John Gozdzialski, regional director at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, told the Financial Post the department is ‘inclined’ to approve the Elkhorn project with certain conditions on Dec. 26.”

Further reading
Council of Canadians opposes Calumet-Elkhorn plan to ship oil on the Great Lakes
Oil shipments on the Great Lakes, now and to come
13 million barrels of tar sands crude could be shipped annually on Lake Superior