Letter: Tar Sands, a Local and Global Threat

To the Editor:

About 30 people from the Upper Valley and parts north recently gathered on the Lancaster, N.H., bridge over the Connecticut River. Why would we brave below-zero weather? We were part of the first regional action against a proposed pipeline that would carry tar sands oil from Montreal through northern Vermont and New Hampshire to Portland, Maine.

Pipeline companies with innocent-sounding names are actually mostly owned by Exxon Mobil and Canadian energy giant Enbridge. They are planning to seek permits to reverse the oil flow of an existing 62-year-old pipeline to bring tar sands oil to the Atlantic for export — and they are being very quiet about this project.

Tar sands oil is a viscous petroleum sludge diluted with chemicals to make it flow. In 2010, Enbridge was responsible for a catastrophic pipeline spill in Michigan where a million gallons of tar sands crude was released into the Kalamazoo River. After two years of effort, 25 miles of that river have been declared forever polluted. We who live along and love the Connecticut River want to make sure that never happens to us. However, this is not just a “not-in-my-backyard” issue. Our best climate scientists have stated that if we use the tar sands oil, it is game over for the planet.

In Alberta, a huge area of the boreal forest located on native-owned land is being cleared to mine tar sands, thus creating massive pollution and problems. We will be showing the movie Tipping Point: The Age of Oil Sands on Friday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m. at St. Paul’s Church, 749 Hartford Ave., Route 5, in Hartford. The screening is free and a discussion of what we can do will follow and will be led by Brian Tokar, director of the Institute for Social Ecology. We will have information on this issue and about going to Washington, D.C., on Feb. 17 for the Forward On Climate Action rally. For more information, contact peagreen@earthlink.net.

Patricia Greene

For Occupy the Upper Valley