Letter: Why Stopping Tar Sands Is Critical

To the Editor:

Two weekends ago, seven of us from the Upper Valley marched in Washington, D.C., alongside about 50,000 others in the Forward on Climate Rally. We carried a banner that said, “Tar Sands Oil = Game Over for Planet Earth,” and a poster that said, “Stop the New England Tar Sands Pipeline” with a map of its projected path from Montreal through Vermont and New Hampshire to Portland, Maine.

Some of you may ask: Just when our country can achieve fossil-fuel energy independence by using tar sands oil from Canada and fracked shale oil from the Midwest, why would people brave the cold and a 10-hour bus ride to protest?

We believe climate change is a serious issue that our country must face if humanity is to survive, and that we must begin immediately transitioning to a clean-energy future. Our foremost climate scientist, James Hansen, says that if we use the tar sands oil, it will increase atmospheric carbon dioxide by 120 parts per million — more than humans have increased it since the industrial revolution. This could mean “game over” for the planet.

The near-solid bitumen that produces tar sands oil creates three times as much pollution as conventional oil and must be mixed with all kinds of lethal solvents to move it through pipelines. To mine it, they are clear-cutting a section of the boreal forest the size of Florida and will leave behind a pool of poisoned water the size of Lake Superior. Native people in the area are already dying from mysterious diseases.

We invite you to come see for yourself. The Upper Valley Sierra Club, Occupy the Upper Valley and Transition Five Villages are sponsoring a free film called Tipping Point: The Age of the Tar Sands on Friday, March 8, at 7 p.m. at St. Paul’s Church on Route 5 in Hartford (near The Haven). It tells the tar sands story from the perspective of a Native tribe. Those of us who went to D.C. will lead a discussion after the film and provide information for you to take home. For more information, email peagreen@earthlink.ne.

Patricia Greene