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Diamantina River in Channel Country

In a remote part of Australia, in the state of Queensland, lies a vast area called Channel Country. Winding rivers with large water holes and multiple channels braid across wide floodplains in a remarkable arid landscape. But every now and then huge floods cause the rivers to overflow, transforming the landscape into verdant wetlands that provide vital habitat for waterbirds, fish, reptiles and mammals. 

Drilling in the Uinta Basin near the town of Ouray.

The people living in the Uinta Basin in eastern Utah are the unwitting participants in a massive scientific experiment.  What happens when you put more than 11,000 oil and gas wells in a geologic basin and then seal off the air for days or weeks on end?  And the initial results are alarming—smog pollution that exceeds the federal standard set to protect public health by a whopping 89 percent.

The fireball that followed the derailment and explosion of two trains, one carrying Bakken crude oil, on December 30, 2013, outside Casselton, N.D.

Forty-seven people, including a four-year-old child, died in July 2013 when a train carrying crude oil derailed in Lac Mégantic, Quebec. Sixty-three tank cars derailed and of these, 59 punctured or ripped open and spilled oil, which ignited, exploded and destroyed the downtown. This catastrophe awoke the public to a 4,000 percent increase in the amount of crude oil shipped by rail and the incredible dangers posed by these crude oil trains to communities. 

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