Vibrant Environmental Movement Builds in Response to Extreme Energy Extraction

August 9, 2013

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Impressive environmental protests have been organized by a wide range people calling for an end to radical energy and a transformation to a clean energy economy. Radical energy includes fuel derived from extreme extraction methods like tar sands, hydrofracking and off-shore drilling for oil or methane gas and mountain top removal for coal. This is costly energy, not only in dollars but in its impact on the environment; and it is causing an impressive growth in people taking action to protect the planet.

Radical energy also requires a massive increase in the number of pipelines being built to carry tar sands bitumen and gas from hydrofracking.  Rather than building the upgraded energy infrastructure we need to reduce wasted energy and to efficiently store and transport energy from the sun and wind, the United States has embarked on building pipelines as well as relying on trains to carry oil and gas. This has resulted in inevitable oil spills, leaks and other damage.

On August 1, a study of Exxon Mobil’s Pegasus pipeline–which flooded a Mayflower, Arkansas neighborhood with over 200,000 gallons of tar sands oil–revealed known “manufacturing defects,” with grave implications for the tens of thousands of similarly built pipelines still in the ground and operating. The old energy industries are grasping every piece of profit they can get, no matter what the cost to the planet (like this oil leak in Thailand) before the inevitable transition to a clean, sustainable energy economy is finally put in place.

One reason the movement has grown is because there have been so many leaks, oil spills and eco-disasters in recent years, especially this summer, that it has been impossible for people to ignore. And, the effects are long lasting. People in Kalamazoo, Michigan are still dealing with a tar sands spill from the Enbridge Line 6 that occurred three years ago; problems will continue into the foreseeable future. The TransCanada pipeline that brings tar sands from Alberta to the Midwest experienced 12 leaks in its first year beginning in June 2010. And, dozens of “anomalies” (which can be seen in the video) were found in the newly laid pipeline in Southern, Texas.

This summer a TransCanada whistleblower testified in Canada that there was a “culture of noncompliance” and “coercion,” with “deeply entrenched business practices that ignored legally required regulations and codes” and carries “significant public safety risks.” One underreported environmental “leak” is not coming from pipelines but from the tar sands pit itself. For nearly three months a mysterious watery bitumen has been coming from a tar sands site with no signs of stopping, and TransCanada has no idea how to stop it. “Watery” is significant because it may indicate the tar sands has mixed with the aquifer.  And, if people think they can avoid the inevitable problems of pipelines by using trains to transport they should not forget the horror of the train wreck in Lac-Megantic, Quebec where a train transporting oil derailed.

The destruction of the environment is so intense that it is leading to an angry opposition by growing numbers of people. We know that the planet cannot speak for itself and those of us who are conscious and aware of the ecological destruction to air, water, soil and climate, must take action to speak for the planet.

Sometimes it takes confrontation, and other times efforts to build consciousness. The Healing Walk in Alberta this July brought more than a thousand people to march together and pray for healing of the land, water, air, and the people themselves. At the heart of the event were indigenous people, who came from all over North America to join Alberta First Nations to see for themselves the destruction and degradation from the out-of-control tar sands expansion.  They found that even those who earn their living from the tar sands voiced their concern and support.

Republished from: AlterNet