The Small Independents Have Become the Real Journalists at the Forefront of the Dilbit Battles

Tar Sands Crud still pollutes the creek in Marshall Michigan where the Kalamazoo River pipeline disaster occurred almost 3 years ago.

Reporters Elizabeth McGowan, Lisa Song and David Hasemyer of InsideClimate News, a small five-year-old online only, non-profit, non-partisan news organization that specializes in energy and environmental science news, are the winners of this year's Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. The trio took top honors in the category for their work on 'The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You've Never Heard Of', which reported the results of their seven-month investigation into the 1.1 million gallon spill of tar sands crud into a creek in Marshall Michigan, a community of 7,400, that feeds Michigan's Kalamazoo River.

The Pulitzer committee commented that the report helped broaden the national debate on pipeline safety issues, and pointed out how unprepared the nation is for the impending flood of imports of 'dilbit' - a more corrosive and more dangerous form of crude oil. The cleanup of the spill that happened nearly 3 years ago is still not complete and has cost over $1billion so far due to the extremely difficult circumstances created when the heavier than water tar sands crud sinks [as well as stinks]. The recent ExxonMobil pipeline spill near Mayflower Arkansas of dilbit underscores the continuing relevance of their of work.

The dilbit disaster in Michigan also taught big oil and the pipeline industry how important access to information is in the PR war that follows a pipeline failure. As the estimates in Arkansas climb to over 300,000 gallons spilled ExxonMobil continues to ramp up its focus on PR damage control rather than actual damage control.  At every turn they are attempting to obfuscate the truth by, for instance power-washing bitumen into a nearby wetland and then paying local sheriffs to keep cameras away, hiding the problem at the expense of the local watershed and everyone who relies on it for drinking water, hunting and fishing.

Why are law enforcement officials taking their orders from a private corporation? Not only are the local cops and officials taking orders from big oil but so is the FAA who within hours of the spill acquiesced to ExonMobil's demands for secrecy by declaring a no-fly zone above the whole area. By a few days later as a huge storm approached that was bound to spread the dilbit further into the marshes and Lake Conway itself Exxon's campaign of censorship and intimidation had put such a fear into the MSM that they wouldn't risk trying to gain access. If it weren't for the devoted independent activist journalists of Tar Sands Blockade who dodged the authorities and risked their safety during the thunder and lightening we would never have the evidence we do now of Exxon's workers pumping the crud polluted water over the dikes and directly into Lake Conway.

The Tar Sands Blockade activists, the folks maintaining the Mayflower Spill facebook site, the independent video streamers at Live Leak and those reporting at Treehugger are, like the reporters at InsideClimate News, leading the charge against the big oil billionaires who will do anything and everything to insure the continued flow of profits generated by dilbit no matter who pays in the long term costs, as long as it's not them.

The MSM is owned by the same selfish corporate forces as big oil. The MSM rely on the advertising revenue they collect from big oil and other corporations for their profits. Consequently the MSM have now relinquished the torch of inquiry to the small independent outlets and the volunteer army of citizen journalists who's courage and hard work both inspire and remind us that as George Orwell said, “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”