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Letter: Tar Sands: An Environmental Tragedy

To the Editor:

There are many environmental reasons to oppose the Keystone XL oil pipeline. However, regardless of those reasons, trace the route of the oil from the United States back up to the Canadian border, over to Alberta, then on up to the Athabasca River region. There the oil is mined and the Cree and Chipewyan First Nations people are living and struggling with the Canadian government and oil companies in a land and watershed contaminated because of that extraction process. The people are dying of rare cancers; drinking water and rivers are contaminated; fish, a major food source, are contaminated; the woodland caribou is being pushed to extinction in Alberta as its migratory route is messed up; toxic containment ponds are breached; treaty rights are breached; and miles of river routes for traditional hunting and trapping are destroyed. To listen to these people’s stories and to see images of the wasted land and the huge tailings ponds is heart wrenching.

So, regardless of all of the environmental tragedies that are occurring and will occur because of these tar sands, there are people up there who are sick and dying and losing their way of living and working — for our benefit? This flow of oil connects us to these people quite literally — and so does our humanity. I encourage us all to educate ourselves about this — and then talk about it. For more information go to www.tarsandsfreevermont.org and or www.keepersofthewater.ca.

Jean Gerber

Thetford Center