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Lawrence County Families Fear Effects Of Tar Sand Mining

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TOWN CREEK, Ala. (WHNT) - Alabama may soon become an oil producing state. We're not talking about off-shore drilling, but rather the harvesting of oil-rich tar sand from right here in North Alabama. But not everyone is in favor of the idea, especially those who live close to where the tar sand would be mined. That includes portions of Colbert, Franklin and Lawrence counties right now, and is expected to expand to other North Alabama areas. We recently met one family who is fighting for their way of life.

"I want to be a wildlife ranger when I grow up, and I'm going to try to change people's minds about how they think about nature and its resources, like this piece of bark. It's made of millions of cells and microbes that you can't see. You need a microscope to see em." Sky McCreless is only six years old and knows little more than what he has gleened from conversations he's overheard. Yet he is mindful of his environment and the places that are special to him, and he despirately wants to protect those areas from harm.

"I don't like what's happening and whats happening is not good," he says.

"Well, you know we have 750 billion barrels of oil in the oil sands in this part of the state, in the Hartselle area, that's where it starts. And that's on the surface. And it goes subsurface down towards Birmingham, down two or three thousand feet down," said Gov. Robert Bentley recently while speaking with reporters during a visit to the Decatur area.

Lawrence County is one of the initial areas being looked at for the possible mining of the tar sands.

"Our whole life is at stake here, the quality of our life," says Summer McCreless, Sky's mother. She fears an environmental disaster is moving in next door to them.

"Because we wanted a rural atmorphere to raise our children."

Janice Barnett also lives in Lawrence County. She says if strip mining for the tar sand occurs, the land, the water and the air will all be at risk.

"It sounds extreme but it is not an exaggeration. I mean, we can take a look where these operations have taken place in other areas and learn from that if we're smart."

The National Wildlife Federation says tar sands oil is one of the dirtiest, costliest and most destructive fuels in the world, and that's a quote.

Sky McCreless doesn't understand the politics or economics of it all. His sole concern is for the area where he lives and plays. His mother tells us the initial work is already underway in Lawrence County for the eventual mining of tar sand oil.


  • bluitmcc

    Thank you WHNT and Al Whitaker for reporting on this story! It is very important that we get this information out on the news so the public knows about what is going on in our small community. This has the possibility of effecting all of North Alabama through air and water pollution.

  • Wake Up

    The Republicans support getting “American” oil wherever they can. They like to say that we must do this to cut our ties to foreign oil. Drill baby drill!! First the Keystone pipeline — then your backyard!! Vote Republican to keep these polices running full speed ahead!

    • Sherlock

      It is people like you who continue to believe in the whole Demon and Repuke illusion of one against the other that is allowing or country to be destroyed. You NEED TO WAKE UP!!! THEY ARE ALL IN IT FOR THE MONEY TOGETHER!

    • Sherlock

      It is people like you who continue to believe in the whole Demon and Repuke illusion of one against the other that is allowing our country to be destroyed. You NEED TO WAKE UP!!! THEY ARE ALL IN IT FOR THE MONEY TOGETHER!

  • Nuclear Mike

    Please some of you Lawrance County residents go to North Dakota to see the Bakken Oil Fields and take at least 3 to 5 days to travel around the whole of the 7,000+ oil derricks.
    You will not like what you see as to what has become of the towns and prairie…super inflation, rowdy out-of-state workers by the 10’s of thousands, displaced locals who cannot afford the new high rents, big money brought in the organized crime, tramp cities set up over night, modular military bases housing…
    Yes, those break-even ranchers & farmers up there now have real money, but they gave away it all to be ruined by fracking & pollution.
    Go see North Dakota!

    • Wake Up

      Republicans (and their mouthpiece — Fox News) says that North Dakota is a total success. They say that the whole country needs economic success like in the Dakotas! Drill baby drill!! Or, I guess we now have to say — strip baby strip!

  • Sherlock

    Hahaha Again blaming the Repukes instead of looking at the truth. Your Repuke and Demon politicians are after one thing. Money!!!! This country was Hijacked decades ago by the world corporations. Just keep quiet blame Repukes vote for O,bama and turn in your guns and get healthcare, Trust the Government, it has everything/ everyone under control.. WAKE UP who ever “WAKE UP” is.

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