Quaker Earthcare Witness on the Keystone XL Pipeline

From August 20 -September 3, 2011, Tarsandsaction.org, together with 350.org and other environmental groups, has organized a protest at the White House gates to persuade President Obama not to permit the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline across Canada and the United States. Quaker Earthcare Witness strongly supports the action of its members who choose to be involved in this protest, whether they risk arrest in civil disobedience or not, to awaken the conscience of the nation and its leader to the enormous scale of risk in this effort to distribute an unconventional, highly questionable source of petroleum and to continue the devastation of the earth.

The Keystone XL Pipeline would permit the Alberta Tarsands mining project, an enormous environmental disaster, to continue. The Tarsands project extracts dispersed globules of bituminous petroleum laden with heavy metals. Every step of the process is energy-intensive. Refining the bitumen after an arduous and expensive extraction process requires gargantuan amounts of water and emits high toxin levels. To heat it sufficiently to flow in pipelines, the mining company must burn methane.

The pipeline would further wreck native lands in Canada, which are already heavily impacted by the mining project. It would flow through prime ranchland and near critical bodies of water in the US. A rupture in the proposed pipeline would create a spill of an estimated seven million gallons of oil. Building the pipeline for what is essentially a land-locked source of low quality oil would cause a huge increase in CO2 emissions. The Keystone XL Pipeline would augment the collateral damage involved in the complex mining process. The production process for tars and oil creates three times the emissions of conventional crude, on average.

The President, with advice from the State Department, will make a decision by the end of this year about whether to allow the Keystone XL pipeline to be built from Alberta to Texas. James Hansen, a leading US climate scientist, states that burning the Alberta oil pool could push atmospheric CO2 levels over 600 ppm. The effect on planetary climate resulting from such an extreme rise in CO2 would be unprecedented in recorded history, threatening human societies and causing the extinction of many species of plants and animals. Approved by the Steering Committee of Quaker Earthcare Witness, August 14 2011

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