Happy spring folks! This is one of my favorite days of the year, and today couldn’t be more beautiful. The sun is shining and warm, there’s a vase of fresh-picked daffodils on my windowsill, and baby veggies are sprouting in the greenhouse at Greenbranch. I’m celebrating the day by watching The Lorax and reinforcing my belief that everything you need to know about life can be learned from a Dr. Seuss book.
While spring brings sunshine and flowers, summer has the potential to bring some serious environmental troubles. Congress faces a host of crucial decisions, as do many individual states. GMO labeling is a hot topic in several states, fracking is spreading its poisonous gases (the Maryland Senate just dropped a bill that would ban fracking in MD – sign the petition to revive it!!), and the Monsanto Protection Act could ruin our crops and our health if passed. But today, I want to focus on a topic I haven’t touched yet: the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline. Fancy name for a tube of toxic sludge, no?
In The Lorax, the Onceler chops down all the trees to further his own business plans, polluting the land, water, and air. Old and sorrwful, the Onceler tells a boy of his mistakes and his hopes for a brighter, greener future. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not,” he says. I think every politician could learn something from the Onceler. And it’s a lesson that needs to be learned soon, before the pipeline brings Canada’s toxic tar sands to the US.
Let’s start with the basics. The TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline is a 1,200 mile oil pipeline that will bring tar sands from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast for refining. TransCanada, the company in charge of the project, promises that it will bring thousands of jobs and help free America from its foreign oil chains.
Now, let’s get to the facts. Namely, the things TransCanada doesn’t want you to know. Yes, it will create badly needed jobs. But once the pipeline is completed, most of those construction jobs will vanish. Yes, the US will get some of the oil produced by the refineries. But the majority of the refineries TransCanada plans to sell to are in Foreign Trade Zones, where the oil can be exported without being taxed by the US. And the oil that we do get is the dirtiest, costliest fuel on the planet. “Producing synthetic crude oil from tar sands generates three times the global warming pollution of conventional crude production. Extracting tar sands bitumen – a low-grade, high-sulfur crude oil that must be extensively refined to be turned into fuel – uses vast amounts of energy and water,” says the National Resources Defense Council. Extraction of tar sands releases high levels of heavy metals and toxins into the environment, including mercury, arsenic, and lead – all known carcinogens. Countless citizens of both Canada and the US have come together to protest the use of tar sands on the Sierra Club’s website. And while TransCanada has thrown out numerous environmentally-friendly promises, the oil industry has made it clear that the environment is last on their list of concerns. We’ve seen enough oil spills in the recent past to know that no oil container is foolproof.
The money-grabbing schemers in Congress are so impatient for the promised fortunes to start rolling in that they’ve introduced bills into both the House and the Senate to approve construction of the pipeline before the State Department finishes its environmental evaluation later in the summer. Congress is expected to vote on the bill in May, taking the reigns from Obama and forcing the issue to be resolved months before all the necessary information has been collected. In other words, screw the people and the land, we want the money.
I wonder what the Lorax would have to say to our Congressmen.
“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues. And I’m asking you sir, at the top of my lungs – that thing! That horrible thing that I see! What’s that thing you’ve made out of my truffula tree?” The Keystone XL pipeline!!
Since the Lorax can’t actually speak out again the pipeline, it’s up to us to do so. Several online petitions have been started to stop the pipeline, so take a minute and sign one – or all of them!