Opposing Tar Sands Pipeline is Anything but “Bizarre”
The Washington Post has described opponents of a pipeline carrying dirty tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico as “activists who have bizarrely chosen to make Keystone XL a line-in- the- sand issue.” As one of those activists, allow me to explain.
Dr James Hansen, leading climate scientist at NASA, has said that if all the carbon stored in the Canadian tar sands is released into the Earth’s atmosphere it would mean “game over” for the planet. He went so far as to call it a fuse to the largest carbon bomb on the planet!
We are getting numb to oil spills in general, but did you know the Keystone 1 pipeline spilled 12 times in its first year and 30 times in its life so far? And, when it spilled in the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in 2010, it caused the most damaging on shore spill in US history? Did you know that the tar sands oil known as bitumen is the consistency of peanut butter, so to actually get it to flow through the pipeline you have to dilute it with….ah well, that’s a proprietary secret. No one, not even emergency first responders to a spill, knows with what it is diluted! So, if it should accidentally get into your aquifer or well or field or creek, the tarry resin has likely been diluted with benzene, a known carcinogen, but, well, the specifics are known only to each shipper.
Did you know that clean-up procedures and equipment are intended to contain floating oil? Unfortunately, diluted bitumen (or dil-bit) often sinks, and clean up responders don’t exactly know where it is. So even though the EPA has supervised over 8,000 cleanups since 1970, cleaning submerged oil is very different from a conventional floating oil spill cleanup, and it is not something anyone is very good at.
Then there is the jobs controversy. At this point it seems that most people are ready to sell the whole future of the planet for temporary jobs. Will they matter when the air and water and climate are destroyed? To add to the confusion, Cornell University’s Global Labor Institute researchers state that the construction of KXL will create far fewer jobs in the US than its proponents have claimed and may actually destroy more jobs than it generates…and that the steel for the pipe won’t even be produced here!
Morally, I really need to take climate change seriously, so I pay attention to Bill McKibben’s terrifying math. I think we need to meet this with an awake citizenry, with action, with protest, in the hope that we can keep these tar sands in the ground, out of our water and the resulting CO2 out of the atmosphere.
Yes, I have chosen to make the pipeline a line-in-the-sand issue. Won’t you join us in Washington, D.C., on February 17, to make it clear to President Obama that thousands of Americans feel the same way? The Forward on Climate Rally is expected to be the largest gathering of bizarre activists ever! For more information about participating with Mercy at this rally, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.