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WASHINGTON – May 16 – The Big Apple proved to be an unfriendly landing spot today for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose sales job for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline was interrupted by scores of climate activists who want President Obama to reject the pipeline and for Harper to re-commit Canada to confronting climate change.
An estimated 100 activists greeted Harper before his visit to the Council on Foreign Relations with a large banner that read “Harper: Tell the truth on climate change. Tar Sands = Climate Disaster.” On Tuesday, over 500 people met President Obama here to ask him to reject the Keystone.
“Harper is here to sell tar sands oil and his country’s record on dealing with the climate crisis but Americans are skeptical of both and for good reason,” said 350.org spokesperson Daniel Kessler. “The US is cutting its emissions while Canada’s are rising. Tar sands expansion will stall progress in both of our countries and concerned citizens are speaking out.”
On cloudy days, heavy smoke fills the air of Ponca City, Okla., with grey smog that camouflages itself into the sky. The ConocoPhillips oil refinery that makes its home there uses overcast days as a disguise to release more toxins into the air. These toxins are brimming with benzene — a chemical that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, can cause leukemia, anemia and even decrease the size of women’s ovaries. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in 2008 the ConocoPhillips refinery released over 2,000 pounds of this chemical into the air in Ponca City.
“Of the maybe 800 of us that live locally, we have averaged over the last five to seven years maybe one funeral a week,” explained Casey Camp-Horinek, a Ponca woman and longtime activist. “Where we used to have dances every week, now most people are in mourning.”
The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) is demanding the resignation of Gerry Protti, the newly-appointed chair of Alberta Energy Regulator, a new agency charged with monitoring environmental issues. The ACFN is concerned that, under Protti’s leadership, the agency will prioritize advancing the interests of the oil, gas and coal industries, while compromising environmental protection and First Nations issues.
“How can Gerry Protti be diligent to First Nations concerns and uphold treaty rights when he clearly has no previous experience engaging First Nations and still has such strong industry ties?” said the ACFN in a press release.
The powerful U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) seems to be taking its mandate seriously. At least as far as the State Department’s recent evaluation of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is concerned.
In an official letter issued last Monday, the EPA trashed the State Department’s draft report, the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), released in March. It expressed grave concern that the report gave an overly-positive environmental assessment of the $7 billion project. That it bizarrely concluded that the 875 mile long pipeline was environmentally sound.
As you’ll recall, the State Department’s conclusions upset a lot of environmentalists. For many good reasons.
Source: Toronto Star
In exploiting every last drop of tar sands crude, the government is impoverishing our country, its democratic freedoms and its future prosperity.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Canada is fast becoming a place that I no longer recognize. In the last year, federal policy has aimed to remove any obstacles to tar sands expansion using repressive tactics that undermine our longstanding democratic traditions. There seems to be no higher federal priority than doing whatever multinational oil companies demand and we – you and I – are being systematically denied any role in Canada’s natural resource future.
Source: Globe and Mail
The province on Friday provided a glimpse into its investigation of the March 25 spill, saying the samples of the company’s undiluted industrial waste-water were lethal to fingerling rainbow trout. These water samples, however, are not comparable to the fluid that poured into the river because they do not account for dilution. Alberta is still investigating whether diluted samples are harmful.