Clothesline in Winter

Clothesline in Winter

Monday, October 24, 2011

You're Invited to the White House

We’ve dedicated a lot of ink over the last month to the Alberta tar sands and its link to world markets: the Keystone XL pipeline. 

The tar sands are widely regarded as the world’s filthiest oil.  And thanks to oil money, our Congress would approve the tar sands pipeline in a heartbeat. 

But it’s not up to Congress.  The President needs to approve it for it to go ahead. This is the same president who took a bold stand in 2006 against the global peril of climate change:

“The issue of climate change is one that we ignore at our own peril. There may still be disputes about exactly how much we're contributing to the warming of the earth's atmosphere and how much is naturally occurring, but what we can be scientifically certain of is that our continued use of fossil fuels is pushing us to a point of no return. And unless we free ourselves from a dependence on these fossil fuels and chart a new course on energy in this country, we are condemning future generations to global catastrophe.”

Global catastrophe.  Sounds like something worth standing against, right? But now, he’s waffling, or worse.  We believe that – unless common people force his hand – he’s going to approve the massive Keystone XL pipeline, and rapidly drive world greenhouse gas concentrations far beyond levels ever seen in the history of mankind.

This pipeline is no small matter. It is the fork in the road for our world. Either to squeeze massive new carbon deposits into the atmosphere before we run out of global oil, or to get serious about sustainable clean energy for coming generations. Either to drive atmospheric CO2 concentrations to double or triple the levels enjoyed on earth for over a million years, or to begin to heal our Father's world.

And it’s dripping with corporate money.  Exxon, Shell, Valero, TransCanada; some of the richest companies in the world are pushing all out to get it approved.  They bought the State Department’s key person in charge of approving the project, and he’s been lobbying his buddies all-out to reward his new benefactors.
We don’t have the money, but there are so many of us.  More than 1,250 of us got arrested at the White House in August to make the President hear our voices.  At the U.S. Department of State hearings in October, almost all the speakers were opposed to the pipeline.  But oil money made its presence felt even there:  They hired scores of unemployed laborers to heckle speakers, and to read prepared scripts of their own about the jobs they expected to get from the pipeline.

Yes, Congress has already sold out to oil money.  But maybe, just maybe, the President can be persuaded to honor his early promises.  But if we lose this battle, there's not likely to be another one worth waiting for.  That’s why my wife Barbara and I are asking you to join us at 2:00PM at the White House on Sunday, November 6, for a few hours, to join with thousands of other ordinary Americans in asking the President to remember his promise, and not to condemn our children to “global catastrophe.”

Please take a moment to watch this excellent film on the tar sands and the KXL pipeline, and then consider registering (here) to come to Washington with us.

And in case you need any reminders, here are a few things we think we’ve made clear about the tar sands, and the KXL pipeline that will make them so much more deadly:

  • Tar sands mining will devastate boreal forests in Canada the size of the state of Florida.
  • Tar sands production consumes 12 barrels of water for every one barrel of crude, and contaminates 4 barrels of water, which then slowly leak toxic chemicals from vast, black containment lakes visible from space.
  • Indigenous people living in the tar sands region face sharp increases in all kinds of rare cancers, and the loss of ancestral lands and waterways, carrying the shameful specter of indigenous genocide into the 21st century.
  • Tar sands oil generates life-cycle greenhouse gases 82% worse than conventional oils.  As such, your hybrid Prius, with tar sands gasoline, is the equivalent of the most gluttonous SUVs running on conventional gas.
  • Tar sands oils are unusually corrosive and highly pressurized in the pipeline, which runs through the huge Ogallala aquifer from Canada to the Gulf, threatening Midwest communities all along the way.
  • The oil industry’s cynical promise of new jobs is a cruel illusion for desperate people: overstating by far the employment benefits; and ignoring entirely the jobs that will be lost due to inevitable oil contamination, continued reliance on foreign oil, and the increasingly severe effects of climate change on our businesses and farms.
  • And most sinister of all is the promise of energy independence. We already have tar sands oil being pumped to the Midwest.  This pipeline will take it straight through the heartland to export terminals on the Gulf Coast, where foreign oil companies can sell it to the highest bidders on world markets.
  • And for those who care about “global catastrophe” falling on their children, America’s leading climate scientist – NASA’s James Hansen – has warned that if the Alberta tar sands get produced, then “it’s essentially game over for the climate.”
So please, please come to Washington with us on November 6th.  Maybe you’ve got plans already.  But I doubt there is anything you can do – perhaps in your lifetime – of greater consequence than helping to dissuade the President from caving in to the oil money on this pipeline. 

They’ve bought Congress. They’ve bought the State Department. We must stop them at the Oval Office.

For the sake of our children.  For the sake of billions around the world.  For the sake of our Lord, to whom all of us belong.

Register here, please.

May God bless you. 

J. Elwood

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