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Canada’s Tar Sands and the Keystone XL Pipeline: What Faithful Texans Need to Know

The U.S. State Department is currently considering whether to approve a request from TransCanada to construct the Keystone XL pipeline, that would carry bitumen 1,661 miles from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada down to Houston, Texas. In September, the State Department plans to hold public hearings in the states through which the pipeline would run. Two hearings will be in Texas: one in Port Arthur on Monday, September 26th; and one in Austin on Wednesday, September 28th.

The mining of this kind of oil in Canada’s pristine boreal forests is incredibly destructive for habitat, wildlife and human life—and it significantly increases greenhouse gas emissions at a critical time in our effort to combat global warming. In addition, the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would run through environmentally-sensitive areas in the U.S., including the Ogallala Aquifer. The Ogallala provides 30% of the groundwater for American agriculture—as well as about 80% of the drinking water for people who live within the aquifer’s boundary; a spill here would be disastrous.

We’ve created this page to be a resource for you and your faith community to use as we engage on this important issue. As more information becomes available, we will update this page. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page for ways to take action.

What’s Going On in Canada?

Mining of Canada’s tar sands for oil is driven largely by U.S. demand: 99% of Canada’s oil exports go to the U.S., and half of that (1 million barrels per day) is oil produced from Alberta’s tar sands deposits. The links below will help you learn about this environmentally-sensitive region of Canada’s boreal forests and the impacts of mining there:

About the Boreal forest

About tar sands mining, a 2009 National Geographic feature

What about the Keystone XL pipeline?

Explanatory video from the National Wildlife Federation’s Action Fund

Interfaith Power & Light Statement on Tar Sands

Austin's Interfaith Environmental Network Statement on Keystone XL

Twenty Prominent Scientists Urge President Obama to Reject Keystone XL

Article in the Los Angeles Times about some Texans’ response to the pipeline

Map of proposed pipeline route in Texas

Take Action

Attend our interfaith prayer service in Austin, Wednesday, September 28th at 10:30 a.m.

Submit your comments about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline online.

Read and sign on to the Texas Jewish Leaders' Statement on the Proposed Keystone XL Pipeline.

Call President Obama and ask him to say “No” to the Keystone XL pipeline: 202-456-1111.

Other ideas: Write a letter to the editor of your local paper or host an educational forum at your congregation. Please contact us for more ways to take action, and stay tuned here for updates.