Reasons not to pipe more tar-sand oil to the USA.
While our country is finally beginning to move down the path towards a clean-energy economy, some continue to slip dirtier - often hazardous - fuel into our mix, pipeline by pipeline, refinery by refinery, permit by permit. The result is devastating - sometimes on a very local level, and always in the context of the need to curb climate change.
Two bad decisions in the past week make this painfully evident.
Treehugger readers are newshounds, so I'm guessing you remember the hundreds of families affected by the devastating coal ash spill near Harriman, Tenn., last December. The question for you now is: Do you know what hazardous waste is being stored near your community?Bad decision #1: Last week the Department of Homeland Security told the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that 44 "high-risk" coal ash storage sites cannot be made public because they are deemed a "security risk." What happened at the Tennessee Valley Authority site last year could potentially happen at any of the coal ash storage sites in the U.S., especially for those labeled "high-risk."
And that's not the only threat they pose. My colleagues Bruce Nilles and Mary Anne Hitt (director and deputy director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign) put it best in their blog:
"If you lived near a dump site where the hazardous waste was so toxic it could increase your cancer risk to as high as a staggering 1 in 50, wouldn’t you want to know about it? What if there was one near your child’s school, but you had no way of knowing about it because the list of the most dangerous sites was being kept secret?"
Yet it appears we’re to be left in the dark about toxic hazards that may be right down the road. You can make a difference – act now.
Bad decision #2: This was Monday's Supreme Court decision to allow the Kensington Gold Mine in Alaska to dump its mine waste into Lower Slate Lake, in spite of the fact that doing so would kill everything in the lake.
Why? Because the justices referred to a Bush Administration-era definition of "fill" - which can include contaminated waste. This is terrible news for those who live around Lower Slate Lake, but it also has national implications. Using this definition of fill could serve as a go-ahead for those in the business of mountaintop removal coal mining - where mining companies dump their waste into streams in Appalachia and it's all perfectly legal.
Finally, those decisions have already happened, but here's an upcoming case that could go either way, and you can take action to influence that decision (on-coming #3) right now. We're at a critical juncture in the fight against one of the dirtiest fuels on Earth: tar sands from Alberta, Canada. Big Oil and its allies in Canada’s government have proposed a massive project, and one piece of it --—the Alberta Clipper pipeline —is up for approval by the U.S. State Department in just two weeks. One person has the power to stop the dirtiest oil project on earth: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
We want to make sure Secretary Clinton knows about this pipeline, part of a plan that includes dozens of oil refineries and pipelines that are crossing the border and being retooled to make U.S, over-dependent on this dirty, dangerous oil. If this gets approved, it's a slippery, tarred slope to a dirty-fuels future.
Need more convincing? Watch Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope talk about the problems with tar sands during his debate last week with Chevron CEO Dave O'Reilly.
Help us defeat these polluters and bring a clean energy economy to the U.S. Together we can make it happen.