Events Calendar

The Refined State: Tar Sands, Pet Coke, and the Front Lines of Great Lakes Oil Cities

April 19, 2016

3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Before tar sands reach consumers as usable energy, they undergo extensive refining. Refineries like the BP Whiting Indiana plant or the Marathon Detroit plant are long-standing institutions that have recently been retrofitted to accommodate the shift of energy source. They sit directly on Great Lakes waterfronts. Despite a lawsuit by The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Legal Environmental Aid Foundation (LEAF) of Indiana with help from the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) against the BP Refinery and a United Steelworkers (USWA) strike in winter 2015, few residents or consumers of Tar Sands energy know how refineries operate or relate to their host communities. Since the host communities tend to be disproportionately poor and underserved, questions of causality immediately arise. Do refineries make communities poor or do they develop largely in poor communities? How do refineries impact the economic and political status of their neighbors and how can the neighbors’ concerns be heard by energy executives or, for that matter, by the consumers of oil? Tar Sands come with their own byproduct, Pet Coke, a kind of coal produced by refining oil sands. Pet Coke sits in exposed piles on the southeast side of Chicago and in Detroit, generating dust with deleterious health effects on those who breathe it.
Noah Hall,
Wayne Law School, Wayne State University
Flint Water Legal Team
Thomas Frank,
Southeast Environmental Task Force
Dr. Cecilia Martinez,
Director of Research Programs, Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy


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