Super-storms. Wildfires. Melting glaciers. As the consequences of a heating planet continue to compound, a growing chorus of voices is calling President Obama to action. On Sunday, February 17th, over 100 community organizations from across Southern California plan a “Forward on Climate” march and rally in downtown LA, in solidarity with the thousands converging on Washington DC the same day.
Planned to be the largest climate change rally in history, an interesting alchemy is forming, bringing people and organizations together. Never before have such a wide array organizations … environmental, humanitarian, religious, political, labor, civil rights, and educational … come together in Los Angeles to say: “Solve the climate crisis! Take a stand, Mr. President!”
The local grassroots groups from Tar Sands Action, Sierra Club, and Coalition Against Nukes, joined with ten others have enlisted almost 90 more standing in solidarity. Supporting organizations, for example, include local chapters of Physicians for Social Responsibility, League of Women Voters, Transition Towns, Idle No More, and Citizens Climate Lobby. Ed Begley Jr. will host the event, with appearances of LA Councilman José Huizar and Elder-Wisdom Keeper Gloria Arellanes from the Tongva Tribe.
The uniting principle is the need for a comprehensive energy policy, focusing on efficiency and conservation, integrated with a clean, renewable energy plan – one that breaks the addiction to dirty and dangerous fuels like Coal, Fracked Natural Gas, Nuclear, and Tar Sands Oil.
The Keystone XL and Tar Sands: US National Interest?
The first order for climate stabilization required of the President is to stop the 1,700-mile Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline.
Projected to cross the middle of North America, bisecting eminent-domain-acquired farmland and open range, the Keystone XL would cross rivers and streams and the Ogallala Aquifer, from Hardisty, Alberta, Canada, to Port Arthur Texas.
Construction of the first leg, from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf, is already underway amid protests and tree-sits. Yet the crucial State Department decision of connecting with the Athabasca Tar Sands of Alberta, Canada has been postponed until later this year.
Secretary of State Kerry merely must decide whether the project is in the interest of the United States of America. Easy decision, right?
Mined from open pits and underground wells, the tar sands project proposes destruction of a Florida-sized section of the Boreal. The extraction process requires massive amounts of energy and fresh water, fouling the air and destroying habitats.
Millions of gallons of water used to wash the toxic bitumen are stored in 80 square miles of ponds that seep into the downriver flow toward the Canadian Peace-Athabascan Delta. Poisonings will abound as long as people eat fish, hunt game, and drink water.
The Alberta governmental officials assure us the oil companies will restore the landscape to an even healthier ecosystem…someday. Is this in our National or International Interest?
Tar sands oil is worth nothing unless shipped to the international market through pipelines. Experts predict the pipeline-corroding diluted bitumen sludge would only occasionally leak into the great Ogallala Aquifer, water source for the Midwest and irrigation for a significant share of US wheat, cotton, corn, sorghum, and cattle production. Another similar pipeline blew-out 12 times the first year of operations.
Processed and refined in a tax-free-trade-zone in Texas, it would be shipped to China, India, anywhere willing to pay. Climate scientists posit, from mining to burning, tar sands oil releases from 3.2 to 4.5 times the greenhouse gases of regular Saudi Crude. Is this in our National Interest?
Are 6,500 employment opportunities from a pipeline, most temporary and non-local, worth this destruction?
Stumping for the cause, pipeline builders TransCanada reference billions of dollars would be invested in the US economy to build this project. Really? Where? What if we invested billions into rooftop innovative-film solar, vertical-vortex-wind turbines within existing high-tension transmission lines, and advanced biofuel technologies generated from algae and wastewater treatment? These would be jobs the earth could support.
How about billions invested into intra-state high speed rail, dedicated bus rapid transit lanes, and suburban light-rail projects with associated transit-oriented development at stations? We could reshape our cities for a cleaner and leaner tomorrow…and survive to take a stroll to the park with the kids. Aren’t these options more in our national interest?
Sustainable Clean Energy Policy – Before it’s Too Late
The February 17th rallies in LA and DC demand President Obama adopt an energy policy that reduces our greenhouse gas output, through energy efficiency, conservation, and integration of clean renewable sources into our daily lives. We must wean ourselves off the fossil fuel addiction, demand smarter sustainable growth of our cities, and provide meaningful alternatives to the automobile. We need to walk, bike, take public transit.
Time to demand organic foods not fertilized with bitumen-derived-miracle-flower-growers. Plastic-petroleum-formed-toxic-leaching food and water containers and their associated cancers are so yesterday. The bison and the Cree People deserve to roam free through their Boreal Forest.
Servicing this addiction is killing us, slowly, sunny skies, another beautiful day, 80 degrees in winter and a swirling desert breeze. It’s nice not to have to wear a coat at least. Yet, I don’t mind the cold if I can snuggle up next to a wood-burning-electricity-generating-food-cooking stove.
Jack Eidt is an urban planner and environmental advocate. In addition serving as Editor for the website WilderUtopia.com, he is Director of Wild Heritage Planners, and represents Tar Sands Action Southern California.)
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