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'Best Practices?': Mississippi, Alabama Ask Canada for Tar Sands Advice

Governors of southern states forge pact, look to Canada for guidance on destructive mining practice

- Lauren McCauley, staff writer

Mississippi and Alabama hope to follow in Alberta's footsteps in their development of tar sands oil. (Photo: Visionshare/ Flickr)The governors of Mississippi and Alabama have forged an agreement to explore the development of tar sands mining within their states, revealing their desire to follow Alberta, Canada's example as they hope to bring exploitation of the "dirtiest fuel" on the planet to the US south.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley announced Saturday the signing of a "memorandum of understanding" to commission the assessment of tar sands resources in an area known as the Hartselle Sandstone, which stretches from north-central and northwest Alabama into northeastern Mississippi.

Studies of the region estimate 7.5 billion barrels of oil are located in the reserves.

The governors say they will be looking to Canada for guidance on "best practices" regarding tar sands extraction, despite the legacy of toxic wastewater lakes and massive mining scars left behind in Alberta's Athabasca River region.

The southern states follow Utah in the growing domestic call for tar sands exploration.

To further illustrate the growing dominance of the oil industry in the region, Mississippi's Sun Herald reports that Gov. Bryant also raised the issue of a 41-mile pipeline to be completed by the end of the year, which will run from Semmes, Ala., to a Chevron Refinery in Pascagoula, Miss.

According to the US Army Corps of Engineers—which issued the permit in September—the pipeline will run through 145 acres of wetlands, cross 33 streams including Black Creek and Little Black Creek and the Escatawpa River.

"The pipeline company Plains Southcap met the requirements for a nationwide permit that allows it to expedite permitting and bypass public notifications concerning wetlands," the Sun Herald reports.

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