Thursday, December 20, 2012
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I am afraid of a lot of things. I’m afraid my grandson will live in a world of turmoil brought on by climate change or a nuclear disaster. I’m afraid one of my daughters will develop cancer from the toxic bath we’re forced to swim in every day. But I’m not afraid of being jack-booted, be it by brown shirts or thugs in expensive suits (or dress suits).”
~ John Bennett, executive director of Sierra Club Canada
In this issue:
- Sierra Club Stands Tall Against Offensive Oil
- Climate Change Beginning to Sink In
- Burlington Rejects Tar Sands
- Americans Increasingly Suspicious of Keystone XL
- Protest KXL on President's Day
Remember last January, when John Bennett went head-to-head with one of Ethical Oil’s propagandists on CBC’s Power and Politics show? Bennett, the executive director of Sierra Club of Canada, creamed Kathryn Marshall, at least when it came to a fair and accurate representation of the facts. But the debate was so heated that the video of the bare-knuckle affair went viral on the Internet.
“Kathryn Marshall’s strategy is all offense and completely offensive,” wrote Justin McDonald, a professional writing student at Grant MacEwan College. “She knows that if she allows this debate to exist in the realm of openness, factualness, and ethical deliberation, she’s going to get smoked.”
Now Ethical Oil has taken its offensive strategy to new a low. Ethical Oil recently filed a complaint with the Canadian Revenue Agency, alleging the Sierra Club Canada Foundation was in violation of tax rules. Ethical Oil, says Bennett, is “the ugly spawn of Ezra Levant. It’s the organization that adamantly refuses to disclose where its funds come from, and has mysterious ties to the Prime Minister’s office. Could this latest legal attack be raw vengeance for the shellacking they took on CBC’s Power and Politics last winter?”
Could it be that the people behind Ethical are afraid of Sierra Club Canada, and would love nothing more than to remove one Canada’s largest environmental organizations from the picture completely?
“A hundred years ago big industry sent thugs to smash printing presses. Today, it’s lawyers, accountants and the petro-pundits – but the effect is the same,” said Bennett. “I am afraid of a lot of things. I’m afraid my grandson will live in a world of turmoil brought on by climate change or a nuclear disaster. I’m afraid one of my daughters will develop cancer from the toxic bath we’re forced to swim in every day. But I’m not afraid of being jack-booted, be it by brown shirts or thugs in expensive suits (or dress suits).”
Read more and support the Sierra Club here.
CLIMATE CHANGE DIRT
For year we’ve seen polls come out of Canada and the United States that make climate scientists cringe. How can half the population refuse to believe that climate change is real and humans are causing it? But a recent poll from the Environics Institute indicates that Canadians, at least, are catching on. Not only do the majority of Canadians (85 per cent) believe climate change is real, but 57 per cent believe the (incontrovertible) fact that humans are causing it, up from a lower number in 2007.
Unfortunately, twelve per cent of Canadians still think the science of global warming is “not yet conclusive” (sigh), but 52 of those still say we should take strong actions now to reduce the chances of a worst-case scenario (which is increasingly likely if things don’t change in a hurry).
The best news is that not only do most Canadians believe climate change is real, they want governments to do something about it. Fifty-nine per cent of Canadians think the government should be responsible for implementing new standards and regulations to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. Only 17 per cent think essential action should come from industry, and just 10 per cent think the solution lies in consumers making lifestyle changes. About the same number think it is reasonable for an average household to pay an additional $100 per year in higher taxes and prices to address climate change (57 per cent), and say they would support a B.C.-style carbon tax in their own province (59 per cent).
Americans are also growing increasingly concerned. A poll in November indicates that 68 per cent of Americans think climate change is a serious problem, up from 46 per cent in 2009. Another poll found that 60 per cent believe climate change is real.
These are good numbers. They indicate that we are on the right track, and that climate change education and advocacy are effectively steering the lumbering ship of public opinion in the right direction. We just need to keep at it, harder and smarter than ever before.
CLEANING UP DIRTY OIL
As the divestment movement gets into full swing at universities across the continent, a little city on the Eastern Seaboard has joined the growing movement against dirty oil. Burlington (pop. 42,000), the largest city in Vermont and the shire town of Chittenden County, took a bold step toward making Vermont “tar sands free.”
According to WPTZ News, the Burlington Council voted its disapproval of the transport of tar sands oil across the state, which it termed as an unacceptable risk to “public health and safety, property values and our natural resources.” The resolution also requires, among other things, that the city buy its fuel from non-tar sands sources and divest from oil companies that profit from the tar sands. Council will also pose an “advisory question” to be put on the March Town Meeting Day ballot, asking voters if they oppose tar sands, and if they want to send a message to the state to phase out such fuel sources. Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger voiced strong support for both resolutions and signed them into effect the next day.
Big Oil plans to reverse a series of pipelines so tar sands bitumen can be transported through Eastern Canada and Vermont to Portland, Maine, where it would be shipped overseas. The Portland-Montreal Pipeline is a very old oil pipeline that will put communities at risk in New England and Eastern Canada.
“Communities are rightly worried that they could be the next to face a spill like the million gallon one into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in July 2010, which is still getting cleaned up – and about the climate impacts of increased reliance on dirty fuels like tar sands,” wrote NRDC’s Elizabeth Shope. “Burlington’s leadership on this issue in passing these anti-tar sands resolutions is an important first step in standing up to tar sands in New England.”
According to VTDigger.com, it was a historic council meeting. Ten people spoke in favor of the resolutions, including Charlie Delaney of the NulheganAbenaki tribe, members of local environmental organizations, and Shelley Kath, a senior consultant for the Natural Resources Defense Council. During the discussion, Sharon Bushor, a long-time independent councillor said she was a “late bloomer” to climate issues but a firm supporter of the resolution. Max Tracy, progressive councillor and one of the sponsors of the resolution, raised a NO KXL sign from a recent demonstration in Washington, DC. He said that his participation in the DC gathering and his conversation with Bill McKibben had committed him to working on climate change issues.
Alright. Which city wants to go next?
CLEANING UP DIRTY PIPELINES
If you thought that only long-haired, outraged environmentalists are opposed to the construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, well, you’d be wrong. The Natural Resources Defense Council wrote a nice blog post recently about the variety of people, institutions and agencies who have a problem with TransCanada’s pet project.
Just look at the list: members of congress; the U.S. EPA; 103 mayors; landowners, ranchers and farmers; veterans and military officials; Native Americans and First Nations; unions; Nobel laureates; scientists; celebrities; businesses and entrepreneurs; investors; faith-based organizations; hundreds of thousands of citizens; and, yes, environmental organizations and other public-interest groups.
"Americans should be outraged," U.S. Army Brigadier General Steven M. Anderson told HuffPost Live recently. " I want to stop paying big oil and I want to start seeing a green economy in this nation. And big oil is pushing Keystone, and Keystone is essentially going to maintain the status quo for another 25 years. And during that time I can only imagine the impact it's going to have on our environment and, indeed, our national security."
Perhaps this explains, in part, why Big Oil lost big in the last election. From Florida to Nebraska, several of the most prominent and public campaigners on behalf of the Keystone XL pipeline were not helped by their association and advocacy with this tar sands pipeline. Similarly, many of those targeted as Keystone XL opponents won re-election, contrary to the predictions pro-KXL commentators and pundits. The most obvious example of this, of course, was in the presidential race: Keystone worshipper Mitt Romney went down in flames, while the man who refused to approve it got re-elected.
Keystone XL, once considered a sure thing, is no longer a political liability in the U.S. That’s a huge step in the right direction, especially when the plan doesn’t include the most advanced spill-detection technology.
Even banks are getting the message that Keystone XL and other tar sands pipelines may not see the light of day. “We assign no better than 50/50 odds that these pipes are built before the end of the decade,” wrote CIBC analyst Andrew Potter in a new report. Those are good odds when you’re in the business of kiboshing dirty and dangerous energy projects.
Looking to make vacation plans for President’s Day? Why not join thousands of fellow Americans and head to D.C. to tell Obama that the Keystone XL pipeline has no place in a future he “quote from Obama’s speech.”
After the hottest year in American history, a horrible ongoing drought, and SuperStorm Sandy, it’s time to show President Obama the connection between importing tar sands crude and a future full of Sandys. So on President’s Day 2013, a weekend dedicated to the legacy of great leaders, why not join us for a massive climate rally in Washington D.C.?
It promises to be a humdinger of a protest. Three thousand people signed up in the first 24 hours after the announcement, but there’s room for plenty more. Sign up today!
Tagged with: the dirt