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.