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Mississippi And Alabama May Be the Sites of the Next Oil Sands Mines

The Mississippi and Alabama governors say they hope to draw upon knowledge and best practice insights established in Alberta

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A piece of Hartselle sandstone in northern Alabama. Photo: Dystopos

Taking inspiration from Canada, Mississippi and Alabama have begun feeling out prospects for oil sands mining. Governors in the two states are teaming up to investigate the Hartselle Sandstone, a 325-million-year-old deposit located in the northern corners of the adjoining states. A recent study estimated that up to 7.5 billion barrels of oil could be embedded in the Hartselle Sandstone, reports the Clarion-Ledger.

Mississippi’s governor, Phil Bryant, said in a press release, that he was pursuing this investigation in order to help the country become more “energy independent.” The Mississippi and Alabama governors say they hope to draw upon knowledge and best practice insights established in Alberta, where an estimated 178 billion barrels of oil sands are currently under development or being considered for development. They’ll be “seeking help from the Government of Alberta, Canadian universities and the Canadian Consulate General in Atlanta, to help assess the reserve,” the Financial Post reports.

Tar sands development in Canada, though, hasn’t been uncontroversial. The industry has boosted the economy, but also brought new social tensions to oil sands boom towns. There are also local environmental impacts to worry about—not to mention the risk of investing in an energy source that’s facing increasing political opposition across the U.S.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Oil Pipeline Spills Heavy Crude in Arkansas  
2.5 Million Gallons of Toxic Waste Just Spilled in Alberta 

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