Dirty Oil Meets its Nemesis: American People (Video)
Today, over 30,000 people (video) rallied in Washington DC, calling on President Obama to take action on climate change and reject Keystone XL pipeline. Named ‘Forward on Climate‘, the rally was planned and sponsored by Sierra Club, one of the largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organizations in the United States. Many other grassroots organizations such as Hip-Hop Caucus, 350.org, Occupy Movement and Us Uncut supported the initiative through social media and their own networks.
So, what the heck is this pipeline and why are all environmental organizations and many people are up in arms about it?
Keystone XL pipeline is proposed by Canadian oil giant TransCanada to carry landlocked tar sands oil, extracted from Canada, to the refineries in Texas and after refination, to export the oil through USA sea ports to other countries and South America.
The pipeline would carry up to 830,000 barrels per day of tar sands oil while crossing six American states including Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
Obama administration boldly rejected TransCanada’s application on January 18th, 2012, but TransCanada reapplied for the Presidential Permit on May 4th, 2012.
Meanwhile, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heinenman approved a new route for the pipeline on January 23rd, 2013, claiming that the new route avoids the environmentally sensitive regions of his State. Final approval needs to come from the State Department, which will ultimately decide on the fate of the pipeline. Today’s rally was to pressure the administration to reject the application and the related proposals.
Tar sands oil is one of the most polluting and carbon-intensive fuels in the world. The pipeline will put people and wildlife at risk from toxic oil spills, polluted water and more. It is opposed by many groups including Native American tribes, landowners who do not want this on or near their land, community groups trying to protect their drinking water, and people across the US who believe that the pipeline takes the country in the wrong direction by maintaining dependence on dirty oil.
Tar sands oil is already causing massive environmental impacts across western Canada. The expansive tar sands operations in Alberta, Canada are one of the most environmentally destructive energy projects in the world, destroying Boreal Forests that provide crucial habitat for endangered woodland caribou and breeding grounds for millions of birds. The Boreal Forest stores 11% of the world’s carbon and is our first line of defense against global warming.
Besides wide scale habitat destruction, the tar sands operation also generates large volumes of air and water pollution. Massive toxic waste water ponds from tar sands operations—akin to mountain top coal mining—can be seen from space. Furthermore, tar sands pipelines are prone to so many perforations that over the past decade more than one million gallons of oil that has spilled polluting rivers, wetlands, and threatened wildlife.
Keystone XL is not the only pipeline being proposed. There are others being considered such as Enbridge Gateway and Trailbreaker pipelines.
UPDATE: Crowd count revised to 50,000!
Photo Credits: 350.org, Us Uncut, Occupy Sandy Facebook pages (Thank you)