Standing Up by Sitting In – Protesting the Tar Sands

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Tomorrow environmental activists will gather in Ottawa to protest the Tar Sands Pipeline from Canada to the US. When I initially found out about the event I was excited and wanted to go. The reason why I will be at work tomorrow instead of Parliament Hill is because the risk of arrest was too high for me and adding to it is the fact that I would be 6 hours from home. In the end it was just too far outside my comfort zone. Now if there is another one that is closer to home I will seriously consider going.

The main issues are as follows:

  • Alberta’s land use planning process is currently not protecting biodiversity, managing tailing waste and placing limits on water withdrawals especially during low flow periods.
  • 95% of the Woodland Caribou (a threatened species) habitat will be lost in order to promote tar sands development.
  • Recent reports indicate that cancer rates are up 30% in the Aboriginal population and as such further studies are needed on the health impacts from the water pollution.
  • There have been no successful reclamation of tailings to date and therefore no comprehensive plan to deal with the 223 billion gallons of toxic waste that will be generated by the tar sands.
  • Models (no actual rates are available) indicate that roughly 3 million gallons of tailings leak into the environment every day from the tailing lakes.
  • Alberta plans on an emission growth over the long term (16% over 1990 levels) due to CO2 emissions from the tar sands. This will put Canada beyond the targets that we have committed to.
  • $820 million has been set aside by the Companies for reclamation but studies indicate that the actual costs could be $10-15 billion. The difference may have to paid by Albertans ($4300-$6300 per person).
This isn’t just a Canada issue either. The US is heavily involved and citizens are standing up and saying No (99% of exports from the tar sands go to the US).  What can you do? 
  • Vote with your pocket book – Take public transit or if you have to have a vehicle buy hybrid or electric cars
  • Talk to your local government about their stance on the tar sands. Use this information during elections
  • Attend a protest or if you can not consider donating so someone else can
  • Look for local events that can attend
  • Educate as many people as you can about the tar sands

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