Being the Change We Hope For: Stopping the Keystone XL Pipeline
The story of the powerful movement to stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Explains the relationship of tar sands & KXL to climate change, as well as public health and human rights.
Being the Change We Hope For: Stopping the Keystone XL Pipeline Canadian Boreal forest One of the world's largest remaining intact ecosystems Photo Credit: Ashley Hockenberry Critical in the fight against climate change Sources: Na,onal Geographic, "The Canadian Oil Boom," March 2009, Andrew Nikiforuk, Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of A Con,nent, Canadian Boreal Ini,a,ve. Home to Many At least 3.5 million people live in the Canadian Boreal (over 10% of Canadians) 600+ First Nations communities maintain traditional roots in the Boreal Source: Canadian Boreal Ini,a,ve. Photo Credit: Oil on Lubicon Land: A Photo Essay by Greenpeace Canada: hQp://youtu.be/qz3nSscXamI Once of the largest carbon sinks soils & permafrost store 2x the carbon of tropical rain forests Source: The Carbon the World Forgot, Canadian Boreal Ini,a,ve and Boreal Songbird Ini,a,ve Essential to global water supply The Boreal has 80% of world's liquid freshwater: more than any other continental-scale ecosystem Water scarcity affects 1 in every 3 people in the world. And not just people in the developing world: 14 States in the U.S. are at extreme risk for water shortages Texas Ranchers struggling with record droughts Sources: The Pew Environment Group; World Health Organiza,on, 10 facts about water scarcity; Natural Resources Defense Council, Climate Change, Water, and Risk. Photo Credit: Michael Stravato The Anthropocene Within the last year, scientists have renamed our current era the Anthropocene to describe an age that through climate change and habitat destruction--has been remade by man. Hostile Environment We are in the middle of the sixth and only man-made extinction of species. Canada has the second highest rate of deforestation on Earth. Photo Credit: Peter Essick, Na@onal Geographic. Because of the Tar Sands. Deforestation One barrel of tar sands "oil" = excavation of two tons of earth and sand Requires 3 story high, 400 ton trucks: "like driving an apartment building" Sources: Na,onal Geographic, "The Canadian Oil Boom," March 2009, Andrew Nikiforuk, Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of A Con,nent. Photo Credits: Louis Helbig, Grist. "The Boreal forest as we know it could be gone in a generation without major policy changes" - Steve Kallick, Director of the Pew Boreal Campaign Vast open-pit strip-mining One of the most environmentally destructive projects on Earth that creates a toxic waste zone the size of England. This is not conventional oil Expensive, energy-intensive, and destructive to extract Source: NIEHS; Credit: Lara Solt, Dallas Morning News-Corbis. One of the planet's most expensive fossil fuels, since it must be highly processed. Highly energy-intensive Industry burns enough natural gas every day to heat six million homes From Josh Fox's Gasland Much of this natural gas is "fracked" Source: Andrew Nikiforuk, Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of A Con,nent. Contaminates vast amounts of water Every day, Canada exports one million barrels of tar sands "oil" (and three million barrels of virtual water) Aerial view of a tailings pond north of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. (Source: NIEHS; Credit: Jiri Rezac) The tar sands consumes as much water annually as a city of 2 million people. Ninety percent of this water becomes toxic waste which leaks into groundwater. Source: Andrew Nikiforuk, Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of A Con,nent, 2009 Wildlife impacts: cartoonishly real Whitefish from Lake Athabasca, collected by Ray Ladouceur, Dec. 2009. Photo credit: Kelly/ Radmanovich. The Simpsons, "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish," 11/1/1990. Scien5sts & local fishers found cancerous tumors on whitefish near Athabasca tar sands Sources: NIEHS, Ian Sample, The Guardian "Human ac,vity is driving Earth's 'sixth great ex,nc,on event'", 7/28/2009, Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, "The Sixth Ex@nc@on?", 5/25/2009. Human health impacts Tailings ponds contain known carcinogens arsenic and benzene, and possible human carcinogens like lead and mercury. Communi5es near tar sands are seeing abnormally high rates of cancer. Rates of renal failure, lupus, and hyperthyroidism are also spiking. Sources: Friends of the Earth; The Pembina Ins,tute; EPA Technology Transfer Network Air Toxics Web Site Arsenic Compounds; American Cancer Society. Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Oil on Lubicon Land: A Photo Essay by Greenpeace Canada: hQp://youtu.be/qz3nSscXamI Only when the last tree has died, the last river been poisoned, and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money. -Cree Proverb "Game Over" Dr. James Hansen of NASA's Goddard Institute has said that exploitation of the Tar Sands will be "Game Over for The Climate" What does that actually mean? How do we measure CO2 in the atmosphere? The atmosphere is mostly nitrogen, oxygen, and some other stuff, including CO2. The amount of CO2 is measured in the number of CO2 molecules for every million molecules of other stuff in the atmosphere. This is called PPM for Parts Per Million. Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff CO2 Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff How do we measure CO2 in the atmosphere? Using fossil fuels releases CO2 to the atmosphere and increases the PPM of CO2 in the atmosphere. Deforestation does the same thing. Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff CO2 CO2 CO2 CO2 CO2 CO2 CO2 CO2 Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff Other Stuff CO2 350 PPM or Bust Scientific Consensus is that to avoid climate change that will cause significant sea level rise and rapid loss of species, atmospheric content of CO2 should stabilize around 350 PPM. If levels reach 450 PPM we are at great risk of creating out control climate change. ppm Oops! 450 360 350 ppm Year: 20?? Year: 2011 450 ppm: Out of Control 390 ppm: Present Levels 270 180 90 0 Year: 1850 280 ppm: Pre-industrial Levels CO2 Levels Climate Change Now At 390 ppm we are already experiencing climate change that causes.... � 40% decline in Arctic Sea Ice since 1970; Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets loosing 100 cubic kilometers of ice per year. Even at current levels of climate change, arctic sea ice could be gone by 2040. Worldwide disappearance of mountain glaciers Northward expansion of sub-tropical regions, Expansion of dry regions, 300% increase in fires in the Western United States Warming surface water and ocean acidification leading to the die off of coral reefs Unprecedented severe storms and flooding Sea level rise of 3 mm per year � � � � � Sources: Dr. James Hansen, Storms of my Grandchildren, Target Atmospheric CO2, NASA: hQp://sealevel.jpl.nasa.gov/science/elninopdo/. Photo by: Jeff Hannigan (source: U.S. NOAA) Carbon in/Carbon Out Carbon is stored in sinks on land and released into the atmosphere through natural cycles. Note: 1ppm=2.12 Gigatons Carbon Atmosphere: 800 Gigatons Carbon Plants: 600 Gigatons Oceans:40,000 Gigatons Soil: 1500 Gigatons Methane hydrates: 10,000 Gigatons Conventional Fossil Fuels : 1,460 Gigatons Source: USDOE, image credit; World Ocean Review Tipping point Once arctic ice melts, the dark surface of the planet attracts more heat which, in a harmful cycle, causes further releases of carbon. At this point, planetary warming cannot be controlled simply by burning less fossil fuels. The danger is that sinks, such as the ocean, will turn into sources. Massive amounts of carbon in the form of frozen methane hydrates will be in danger of destabilizing. Ocean acidification, which is already in process, will not be reversible. Atmosphere= Way too many gigatons carbon Source: Dr. James Hansen, "Storms of my Grandchildren." Methane Hydrates Methane hydrates are vast frozen CO2 sinks along the ocean floor and arctic shelf. In the past, rising ocean temperatures triggered an abrupt release of more than 2000 gigatons tons of carbon in the form of melting methane hydrates into the atmosphere. We cannot stop the release of methane hydrates once we have warmed the ocean too much. Methane hydrate is an example `runaway climate change` that is often discussed. What is Ocean Acidification? Ocean acidification is caused by increased absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide which raises the pH of the oceans. Ocean pH has increased by 30% since preindustrial times. The photo progression below shows the effects on the carbonate shell of an organism after 45 days in an environment with the predicted ocean pH for 2100. Ocean acidification caused a mass extinction of ocean species during the Cenozoic Era. The ocean is currently acidifying at a rate 10 times faster than it did during the Cenozoic area. Image Credit: Na,onal Geographic images How do we know 450 is too high? When atmospheric carbon was above 450 ppm during the Cenozoic Era there was no ice in the Antarctic. The sea level was 75 meters higher than it is today. Source: Dr. James Hansen, "Storms of my Grandchildren." Are we sure? Pretty sure. We know that there was no sea ice at 450 plus or minus 100 ppm. Which means that atmospheric concentration that eliminated antarctic ice actually occurred somewhere between 350 and 550 ppm. So that's why keeping carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere around 350 ppm is really the safe number. Remember that as of today we're at 390. Up, up, and away. (Not in a good way) If only 50% of the tar sands were exploited, atmospheric CO2 would increase by about 62 ppm. ppm 452 ppm 62 ppm 390 312 234 156 78 0 390 ppm Yeah, but not in my life time...? Critics of the "Game Over" say that at a rate of 1.5 million barrels of oil a day, it will take a long time for the Canadian Tar Sands to have impact. But the rate of extraction in the tar sands is increasing. The planned Keystone XL pipeline is part of a project to increase the production on of the oil sands to 3.1 million barrels per day in the next ten years. The Canadian Association of Oil Producers assumes that production from the tar sands will be 4 million barrels per day by the year 2025. millions of barrels per day 4 3 2 1 0 2011 Year Sources: NRDC, Reuters. 2013 2015 2017 2019 2021 2023 2025 Even if production never exceeds 4 million barrels per day, exploitation of the tar sands alone will be enough to bring atmospheric CO2 to 450 ppm in the year 2080. Why the Fuss? Okay, but it's not like the tar sands are the only fossil fuels on Earth. Heavy Oil Oil 120 Fracked Gas 190 Oil Shale 180 Gas 420 100 Tar Sands 390 Coal 1050 Known fossil fuel reserves, equivalent to 1150 ppm That's right. Bad as the tar sands are, they are only a part of the picture. Sources: Jim Hansen "The Tar Sands and Climate" , hQp://www.climatestorytellers.org/stories/james-hansen-white-house-and-tar-sands/ and Hansen, 2008 paper, "Target Atmospheric CO2; Where Should Humanity Aim?" Trend towards "extreme energy" Natural gas "fracking" Mountaintop removal From Josh Fox's Gasland Photo Credit: Vivian Stockman Deep sea oil drilling Oil shale development Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard Photo Credit: Nathan Bilow for The New York Times Game Over. Tar Sands exploitation represents a policy and investment commitment to creating climate change we can't adapt to. That's a big part of why we don't like them... Enough. ....and why it felt like it was time to do this. photo credit: Josh Lopez Nice photo. And that stinks about the carbon impacts. But aren't we stuck with fossil fuels for now because there are no viable alternatives? Renewable Right Now. Engineering professors from Stanford and the University of California have show that using existing technology and resources in proportions shown below the world could be powered 100% on renewable energy... 8.3)1%% 4'(% !"#$%% &'(% 7"$)3%% ,(% 56$1.% 4(% -+./0+12)3% !)*+% 4(% ,(% ... and that the infrastructure to change to renewable power could be built by 2030. Nuh-uh. Actually, yes. As recently as a decade ago we thought that we couldn't meet our needs with intermittent resources. Technological advances, particularly in forecasting and advanced transmission infrastructure, have made 100% renewable energy possible. image credit: GE Ecomagination ge.ecomagination.com/smartgrid/#/landing_[age But don't take our word for it: http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/ susenergy2030.html Won't that be expensive? The costs of Renewable Energy decrease with time. Conventional Energy is a finite, polluting resource, subject to increasing costs because of scarcity and social consequences. Cents per kWh ($US) 0.2 0.15 0.1 0.05 Wind (Onshore) Wind (offshore) Wave Geothermal Hydro Solar (Concetrated) Solar (PV) Tidal Conventional Convential+Externalized Costs 0 2010 2020 Source: Jacobson & Delucchi, "Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power, Part II: Reliability, system and transmission costs, and policies", Elsiver November 22nd, 2010 Fossil Fuel isn't Free The U.S government annually provides $10 billion in subsidies for the fossil fuel industry 1,* Unpriced Externalities Image credit: Political Economy Research Institute The U.S. National Academy estimates that unpriced externalities could add $0.03 to $0.15 per kilowatt hour to the cost of fossil fuels. That's three to fifteen cents a kWh, you said? Sound like small change? It isn't. Given U.S. energy consumption, these pennies add up to a range of between $114 billion and $570 billion dollars per year. Billions of $US 600 Price of the most valuable company on 450 300 $570 Billion $337 Billion 150 0 $114 Billion Based on 2010 U.S. energy consump,on of 3.8 trillion KWh Emissions from coal fired power plants cause 13,000 premature deaths in the United States a year. Source: The Clean Air Task Force Vehicle emissions cause increased risk of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer.2 Source: "The Harmful Effects of Diesel Exhaust": A Case for Policy Change Environment and Human Health, inc. Women living in areas of high vehicle pollution have double the risk of breast cancer as women living in the least polluted areas. Source: http://www.catf.us/resources/publications/files/The_Toll_from_Coal.pdf So when someone says that THIS is good for the economy... ...what does that mean? photo credit: Gareth Lenz Is this even the right way to look at it? So...why would anyone do this? So-called job creation strategy TransCanada, the pipeline company, claims it would create 20,000 direct jobs and 108,000 indirect jobs. The State Department only accounts for 5,000 - 6,000 direct jobs over 3 years, most of them non-local and temporary. Source: Cornell University Global Labor Ins,tute, Employment Facts: The Keystone XL Pipeline: hQp://priceofoil.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/CU_KeystoneXL_090711_FIN2.pdf Luckily there's another vision. According to a study on Virginia offshore wind done by Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium, consisting of researchers from Old Dominion University, James Madison University, and Virginia Tech: 3200 MW would create 9,700 to 11,600 career-length jobs in Virginia alone Source: Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consor,um "Virginia Offshore Wind Studies, July 2007 to March 2010," published 20 April 2010 Locked in. Building the Keystone XL Pipeline locks us in to fossil fuels by allocating scarce resources away from renewable energy. Vested interests: Over $130 Billion CAD in Tar Sands development (1999-2011) Sources: Sta,s,cs Canada, Private and Public Investment in Canada "Oil and Gas Investment in Alberta (Billion Dollars), Washington Post. "Obama allies' interests collide over Keystone pipeline," By Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson, Published: October 16, 2011; Rainforest Ac,on Network: Banks Ranked and Spanked on Tar Sands; Canadian Associa,on of Petroleum Producers. Bought and paid for Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's former Deputy Campaign Manager is now TransCanada's lead lobbyist Cardno Entrix, a TransCanada contractor, carried out the State Department Environmental Impact Assessment and public hearings process for the pipeline Conflicts of interests abound The Keystone XL Pipeline 1,700 mile pipeline that would run from Alberta, Canada to the Texas Gulf Endangers Ogallala Aquifer, the drinking water for millions of Americans Key to unlocking the Alberta Tar Sands. According to top Canadian oil ministers, without the KXL, Alberta would be "landlocked in oil" TransCanada has a terrible safety record Keystone I spilled 14x since it went into operation in June 2010. Source: The Na,on, "State Department Issues Flawed Blessing of Keystone XL." Published August 26, 2011. Pipelines are imperfect In 2010, a San Bruno, California natural gas pipeline explosion burned three homes and killed eight people. Sources: The Daily Beast "Obama's Pipeline Mess."; NY Times San Bruno Gas Explosion (2010). Photo Credit: Paul Sakuma, AP Tar sands oil is inherently less safe Tar sands "oil" is highly corrosive and must be pushed through pipelines at higher-than-normal pressure, creating high risks of major spills Kalamazoo River tar sands oil spill closed 35 miles of the river and cost taxpayers $500 million to clean up (as of July 2010) Sources: The Daily Beast "Obama's Pipeline Mess."; NYTimes "Michigan Governor Warns of Oil Spill Threat", Published: July 28, 2010. Photo Credit: Andre J. Jackson/Detroit Free Press, via Associated Press. All in all, the Keystone XL Pipeline is a colossally bad idea. And why it is time to take a stand. Tar Sands Action Building Keystone XL requires a Presidential permit that certifies whether it is in the `National Interest,' which means President Obama alone decides whether the project gets built. The Tar Sands Action is a campaign to insist that the President reject the pipeline. Photo Credit: Shadia Fayne Wood Photo Credit: Shadia Fayne Wood Photo Credit: Ben Powless Response to the State Department's Environmental Impact Statement Photo Credit: Ben Powless Fr. Jacek of Franciscan Action Network Photo Credit: Josh Lopez Photo Credit: Ben Powless Actress Daryl Hannah takes a stand Photo Credit: Ben Powless "We are the keepers of the Mountains" Photo Credit: Shadia Fayne Wood Indigenous Environmental Network leaders Photo Credit: Shadia Fayne Wood Kandi "Eagle Woman" Mossett Photo Credit: Shadia Fayne Wood Nebraskans Against the Pipeline Photo Credit: Ben Powless Photo Credit: Shadia Fayne Wood Photo Credit: Milan Ilnyckyj A Movement Born 1,253 arrests at the sit-in, with international solidarity actions from Canada to Egypt to New Zealand 200+ Arrested at Action on Canada's Parliament Hill on Sept. 26th 25 US Mayors and former mayors & Governors Dave Heineman (R-NE) and Peter Shumlin (D-VT) oppose the pipeline North American labor unions join in Opposition: Amalgamated Transit Union, Transport Workers Union, and 2 Canadian Unions Congresspeople raise concerns about permitting process Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sent a letter to Secretary of State Clinton with his opposition to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)'s letter to Clinton raised "serious concerns" about State Dept's Environmental Impact Statement. More than 20 lawmakers, including Rep. Earl Blumenauer (DOr.) sent a letter to Clinton criticizing tainted review process. 3,500+ press mentions...and counting front page coverage & an unprecedented four editorials opposing the KXL Pipeline Real Progress 12,000 strong at Nov. 6th Action Victory! Or so we thought... Congress attached the KXL pipeline as a rider to the payroll tax extension, forcing President Obama to decide on the pipeline by Feb. 21, 2012. Then, President Obama rejected the pipeline on Jan. 18, 2012! House Republicans responded with additional legislation to force approval of the Keystone XL. And so, the fight against tar sands and extreme energy continues. And Keystone XL is just one of many proposed new tar sands pipelines & pipeline expansion projects in North America. And Canada remains the largest U.S. supplier of oil. Much of that is tar sands oil. Tar sands development and its impacts remain a day-to-day reality for frontline communities. First Nations communities continue to organize against proposed tar sands pipelines, including Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline. Learn more about the Indigenous Environmental Network: ienearth.org The fight against tar sands and fracking are linked, since tar sands uses huge quantities of fracked gas. Pennsylvania and New York are the battleground against fracking in the U.S. Learn more: gaslandthemovie.com protectingourwaters.com Extreme energy will not stop. Unless we stop it. We've already seen the power of our movement. Imagine what else we can do together. Where we lead, politicians will follow. Together, we can create the political will for a sustainable climate and an equitable world. Thank you for all you do. For more information, contact: yimingr at gmail dot com To keep updated with the Tar Sands Action, visit tarsandsaction.org