Word to the President: Action on Climate and Keystone Now!

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Join the largest climate change rally in history on Sunday, February 17th, with tens of thousands converging on Washington DC and solidarity marches in Los Angeles and across the country to demand: “Solve the climate crisis! Take a stand, Mr. President!”

tar sands, Keystone XL

“Solve the climate crisis! Take a stand, Mr. President!”

Wildfires menace backcountry housing developments. Sea level rise threatens to inundate ocean view restaurants and beach boardwalks. Rivers and reservoirs dry to dust throughout the Southwest. As the consequences of a heating planet continue to compound, a growing chorus of voices is calling President Obama to action. On Sunday, February 17th, tens of thousands will converge on Washington DC for the “Forward on Climate” march, with solidarity rallies across the United States, including a march in downtown Los Angeles at 1 pm.

Planned to be the largest climate change rally in history, an interesting alchemy is forming, uniting people and organizations around a call to action. Never before has such a wide array of groups: environmental, humanitarian, religious, political, labor, civil rights, and educational, come together to say: “Solve the climate crisis! Take a stand, Mr. President!” Upwards of 140 groups have joined DC organizers 350.org, Sierra Club and the Hip Hop Caucus. More than 100 have enlisted their support to LA organizers Sierra Club Beyond Coal, Tar Sands Action SoCal, and Citizens Climate Lobby. LA speakers include Representative Henry Waxman, Chief Phil Lane Jr. from the Four Worlds International Institute, and hosted by Ed Begley Jr.

Following encouraging words in his Inaugural and State of the Union addresses, the Obama Administration and Congress must enact a comprehensive plan to reduce our greenhouse gas levels through energy efficiency and conservation, while integrating clean renewable energy sources into the economy. We must break our addiction to dirty and dangerous fuels like coal, fracked natural gas, nuclear, and tar sands oil.

The Keystone XL and Tar Sands: US National Interest?

midwest, oil, tar sands

Experts predict the pipeline-corroding diluted bitumen sludge would only occasionally leak into the great Ogallala Aquifer, water source for the Midwest and irrigation for a significant share of US wheat, cotton, corn, sorghum, and cattle production. Photo from Rep J. Randy Forbes.

The first order for climate stabilization required of the President is to stop the 1,700-mile Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline. Projected to cross the middle of North America, bisecting eminent-domain-acquired farmland and open range, the Keystone XL would cross rivers and streams and the Ogallala Aquifer, from Hardisty, Alberta, Canada, to Port Arthur Texas. Construction of the first leg, from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf, is already underway amid protests and tree-sits. Yet the crucial State Department decision of connecting with the Athabasca Tar Sands of Alberta, Canada has been postponed until later this year. Secretary of State Kerry merely must decide whether the project is in the interest of the United States of America. Easy decision, right?

Mined from open pits and underground wells, the tar sands project proposes destruction of a Florida-sized section of the Northern Boreal Forest. The extraction process requires massive amounts of energy and fresh water, fouling the air and destroying habitats. Millions of gallons of water used to wash the toxic bitumen are stored in 80 square miles of ponds that seep into the downriver flow toward the Canadian Peace-Athabascan Delta. Poisonings will abound as long as people eat fish, hunt game, and drink water. The Alberta governmental officials assure us the oil companies will restore the landscape to an even healthier ecosystem…someday. Is this in our National or International Interest?

tar sands, destruction, Alberta

The Alberta governmental officials assure us the oil companies will restore the landscape to an even healthier ecosystem…someday.

Tar sands oil is worth nothing unless shipped to the international market through pipelines. Experts predict the pipeline-corroding diluted bitumen sludge would only occasionally leak into the great Ogallala Aquifer, water source for the Midwest and irrigation for a significant share of US wheat, cotton, corn, sorghum, and cattle production. Another similar pipeline blew-out 12 times the first year of operations. Processed and refined in a tax-free-trade-zone in Texas, it would be shipped to China, India, anywhere willing to pay. Climate scientists posit, from mining to burning, tar sands oil releases from 3.2 to 4.5 times the greenhouse gases of regular Saudi Crude. Is this in our National Interest?

Are 6,500 employment opportunities from a pipeline, most temporary and non-local, worth this destruction? Stumping for the cause, pipeline builders TransCanada reference billions of dollars would be invested in the US economy to build this project. Really? Where? What if we invested billions into rooftop innovative-film solar, vertical-vortex-wind turbines within existing high-tension transmission lines, and advanced biofuel technologies generated from algae and wastewater treatment? These would be jobs the earth could support.

How about billions invested into intra-state high speed rail, dedicated bus rapid transit lanes, and suburban light-rail projects with associated transit-oriented development at stations? We could reshape our cities for a cleaner and leaner tomorrow…and survive to take a stroll to the park with the kids. Aren’t these options more in our national interest?

Sustainable Clean Energy Policy – Before it’s Too Late

LA Metro Gold Line in South Pasadena

The synergy of adding light rail lines to established neighborhoods, brings places and people to life.

The February 17th rallies in LA and DC demand President Obama adopt an energy policy that would help wean ourselves off the fossil fuel addiction, demand smarter sustainable growth of our cities, and provide meaningful alternatives to the automobile. We need to walk, bike, take public transit. We need national carbon pollution cap while pricing carbon pollution with a built-in public dividend to reflect the cost of its toxicity to the land and water. How about a ban on fracking? How about joining the world in efforts to forge a fair, ambitious and binding climate treaty? Servicing this addiction is killing us, slowly, sunny skies, another beautiful day, 80 degrees in winter and a swirling desert breeze. It is nice not to have to wear a coat. Yet, I don’t mind the cold if I can snuggle up next to a wood-burning-electricity-generating-food-cooking stove.

For More Information on the Los Angeles Rally:

Invite: Climate Rally LA Invite_Feb 17th v3
Facebook Event Page: http://j.mp/RallyLA
Website: http://j.mp/LARally
Flyer: Feb 17 – LA Forward on Climate March.V2
More Info on Tar Sands: Tar Sands-Keystone XL
Twitter Hashtag: #FwdClimateLA
Carpool: http://j.mp/carpoolClimate

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Jack Eidt

About Jack Eidt

Writer, urban theorist, and environmental advocate, Jack Eidt careens down human-nature's all consuming one-way highway to its inevitable conclusion - Wilder Utopia. He co-founded Wild Heritage Planners, based out of Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at jack (dot) eidt (at) wilderutopia (dot) com.