A Summer of Protest


This summer, activists from all over North America are planning actions in the nation’s capital to protest the Keystone Pipeline’s XL extension. Proposed in 2008 and granted a permit two years later by the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission--the expansion has been met with fervid opposition.

Members of the US Congress have spoken out about the pipeline expansion saying that the transport of crude oil from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada to refineries in the United States, amounts to undermining America’s clean energy future with the dirtiest form of transportation fuel available.

These tar sands in Alberta are the second largest pool of carbon on the entire planet. Allowing them to be exploited is tantamount to eventually releasing 200 parts per million of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Since we are already at 390 parts per million of CO2, we simply cannot allow this to happen. It is known that anything above 450-650 ppm will produce catastrophic climate change.

Besides the climate altering carbon emissions these tar sands have the potential to yield, there’s also the matter of oil spills. The Keystone Pipeline has already leaked a dozen times over the past year. There’s no telling the amount of damage that could be done to land and aquifers in the United States should the XL extension be completed. To see the potential for disaster one only needs to look at the recent Yellowstone River spill in Montana when an ExxonMobil pipeline ruptured. A town of 6,500 people in Laurel, Montana were forced to evacuate some people due to the fear of explosions from the fumes.

With the rise of gas prices to come from the increase in global demand for oil, it will be difficult for the US State Department to disapprove of the Keystone Pipeline’s extension into the US. The time has come to ask ourselves at what cost are we willing to continue down the path we’re headed for the sake of this non-renewable form of energy. To agree to the expansion of this pipeline is to marry the nation’s national interest to that of a fossil fuel at the expense of  investing in alternatives. This marriage looks to be a long one unless we alter course.

The path we are on is simply unsustainable. Even with the tar sands, there simply will not be enough supply to meet global demand in the coming decades. China with a population of 1,331,460,000 as of 2009 will soon have a significant portion of its people driving automobiles. We must find a better way to fuel our transportation--tar sands are not the answer.

From August 20th – September 3rd  Tar Sands Action is planning a peaceful protest in Washington DC to defuse the largest carbon bomb in North America. Sign up and join the fight for a future that is sustainable and secure.