Another fifty-two environmental activists were arrested on Monday for taking part in the Tar Sands Action, a peaceful two-week protest that’s urging President Obama to reject a permit for the risky Keystone XL pipeline.
“It’s an honor to be here with so many people from across the US,” said Tantoo Cardinal, an indigenous actor best known for her roles in Legends of the Fall, Dances with Wolves, and Smoke Signals. Cardinal was born in Ft. McMurray, Alberta, now considered the capitol of the tar sands. “This is about protecting our land, our water, and our climate. The tar sands destruction has to stop,” said Cardinal
By the end of 2011, President Obama will have to decide whether or not to approveThe Keystone XL pipeline which would carry up to 900,000 barrels of corrosive tar sands bitumen each day from the tar sands in northern Alberta to America’s Gulf Coast.
According to the NRDC’s Keystone XL FACT SHEET, the 1702-mile pipeline would be placed “over and, in some places, in the Ogallala Aquifer, which serves as the primary source of drinking water for millions of Americans and provides 30 percent of the nation’s ground water used for irrigation.” A pipeline leak could have a devastating impact on the water supply.
The tar sands themselves are widely regarded as one of the most ecologically destructive project on Earth. And for good reason:
1) Producing oil from the tar sands emits three times as much pollution as conventional oil and it requires an enormous amount of energy and fresh water. Up to four barrels of water are drained from the Athabasca River to produce one single barrel of tar sands oil.
2) Tar sands companies produce up to 480 million gallons of tailings waste each day. That waste is poured into open air tailings ponds–lakes filled with mercury, benzene, arsencic, lead, chromium, polycitric aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and other deadly toxins.
2) 3 million gallons of that waste leaks into the Athabasca river and watershed every day.
3) Those toxins are having a grotesque impact on local fish and communities living downstream from the tar sands operations, including Fort Chip and Fort Mckay. Both communities are experiencing the highest rates of cancer they’ve ever known.
An image from the March 2009 National Geographic article on the tar sands, photo by Peter Essick4) Huge swaths of ancient boreal forest are being cut down, slowly turning the region into a vertible wasteland.
5) The tar sands are Canada’s single greatest source of greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions. Right now the tar sands are releasing up to 40 million tonnes of GHGs a year; but that count is expected to triple by 2020. Speaking to issue of climate change, NASA’s Jim Hansen warns that, in order to stablize the climate “the principal requirement is that coal emissions must be phased out by 2030 and unconventional fossil fuels, such as tar sands, must be left in the ground… if the tar sands are thrown into the mix it is essentially game over.”
Tell President Obama: No to Keystone XL: http://www.tarsandsaction.org/obama-petition/
Learn more about the Tar Sands at www.tarsandswatch.org