The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is back in the news. The U.S. State Department is indicating that it will not include climate change among the top impacts of this dangerous project that would destroy Canada’s boreal forests while unlocking some of the most polluting oil on Earth.
Ten leading climate scientists wrote Secretary Clinton recently, noting how "the vast volumes of carbon in the tar sands ensure that they will play an important role in whether or not climate change gets out of hand." If objective scientists are alarmed enough to speak up, then we, as people of faith, must act. The science is clear: This project poses an unacceptable risk to God’s creation.
The Interfaith Power & Light movement has steadfastly opposed the Keystone XL pipeline on moral grounds because of its extraordinary threat to our climate, as well as North America's food and water supply. To learn more, read on.
“Tar Sands Pipeline” Keystone XL Update
Last fall, Texans of faith came together to speak out in opposition to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline when the State Department held a public hearing in Austin. Then in January, we thanked President Obama for opposing a fast-tracked permit for the project.
Since then, TransCanada has resubmitted a bid for the permit it needs to build across the U.S.-Canadian border, but the Obama administration has put off its decision until after the November 2012 election. Meanwhile, in March 2012, the President voiced support for expediting construction of the Keystone leg extending from Cushing, Oklahoma to Port Arthur, Texas, calling it a “national priority.”
"For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity." -- Ecclesiastes 3:19
A Tragedy in the Making
The Keystone XL would be used for transporting bitumen, or “tar sands oil,” from Alberta, Canada to Port Arthur, Texas. While standard crude is pumped from deep reservoirs in the earth, tar sands oil is found mixed throughout sandy soil just beneath the Boreal forest floor. The most common method of extraction requires clearcutting and strip-mining the land, leaving behind a desolate wasteland covered with toxic pools. This has damaging effects on communities in the area, many of which are First Nation peoples, and on untold numbers of plant and animal species native to the region. Learn more in a 2009 National Georgraphic article on "The Canadian Oil Boom."
A Crossroads of Conscience
As people of faith, we understand that caring for other people and safeguarding God’s creation are important parts of living a just and righteous life. 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.
“Tzedek, tzedek, tirdof! – “Justice, justice, you shall pursue!” –Deut. 16:20
Texans’ Water Source Endangered
Keystone would cross the vital Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer, which is estimated to provide drinking water for over 12 million homes across 60 Texas counties. A tar sands oil spill in this fragile aquifer would be disastrous. We must ensure access to a safe, reliable water source as part of creating and sustaining healthy communities—and this pipeline puts our water and health at unnecessary risk.
Statements Against the Keystone XL
Interfaith Power and Light Statements on Tar Sands
Austin's Interfaith Environmental Network Statement on Keystone
Top Climate Scientists to State Department: Keystone XL Review Should Consider Climate Effects
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.