Lake Superior
Lake Superior.
Holly Kuchera

The Great Lakes have been spared the ignominy of becoming a conveyor for crude oil fracked at North Dakota’s Bakken fields.

At least for now.

Plans to build a crude shipping terminal at Duluth, Minn., on the western shore of Lake Superior, have been shelved because of a lack of refining capacity on the East Coast. From Wisconsin Public Radio:

The oil terminal would have shipped crude from the ever-expanding Bakken oil fields in North Dakota, where production has tripled over the past five years and is expected to double in the next six years. It’s a challenge for transportation to keep up with production.

Even so, Superior Calumet Refinery manager Kollin Schade says the size and cost of an oil terminal means they need a refinery on the east coast as a partner.

“We’ve had interest from various partners, but we’ve not had anybody who would step forward and do a long-term commitment to make the project feasible from our side,” he says.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the oil industry won’t find other ways of getting its product to market, such as rail and pipelines. But at least this announcement means we’re less likely to wake up to news of oil spills fouling the Great Lakes.