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I'm planning on being arrested (again) protesting the Tar Sands (in Ottawa this time)

From A Friend of Toronto Climate Campaign who went down to the Tar Sands Action in Washington D.C., USA and now going to Ottawa, Canada to Say No to The Tar Sands.


Dear family and friends,

Now that I have used up my 15 minutes of fame - from being arrested in Washington - it is time to get some more. I am planning to visit our nation's capital in a couple of weeks to protest our government's promotion of the Tar Sands and the Keystone pipeline.

The Keystone XL pipeline is a critical line in the sand. Indeed, NASA climatologist James Hansen says that if all the oil beneath Alberta’s boreal forest is mined and sent south to Texas for American consumption, it is essentially “game over” for efforts to stem global warming.

US President Barack Obama doesn’t need Congress to say NO to this pipeline. It’s his decision alone, through the State Department. To urge Mr. Obama to live up to his environmental promises and impassioned rhetoric*, more than 1,250 people were arrested during the 14 days of civil disobedience in front of the White House, most of them passionate Obama supporters in 2008. As so many credible scientists have pointed out, if big steps aren’t taken now to stop our fossil fuel addiction – including blocking this pipeline – it will be today’s young kids and everybody’s grandchildren who will pay an unthinkable price for our failure to get off oil.

It was hard not to notice that the timing of the protests, August 20 to September 3, coincided with bouts of extreme weather in Washington, but did the right people make the connection? Hurricane Irene hurtled toward DC and the entire eastern seaboard one week after the first arrests, then ironically careened off to do its worst damage in environmentally progressive Vermont. Just days after the final sit-in on September 3, ‘unprecedented’ torrential rains pounded Washington and caused mass flooding and three deaths. Yet DC got off lightly compared to Binghampton, New York, where an ‘extreme rainfall event’ dropped a stunning 7.49 inches of water on the same day, September 8. It was Binghampton’s second once-in-a-century rainstorm in just under a year. (For more details:

These storms should be convincing wake-up calls but is Mr. Obama connecting the dots, or even willing to try? (All that oil money flooding into 2012 re-election coffers could well be disconnecting both the dots and his conscience.)

Even if President Obama blocks the Keystone XL pipeline (which will carry 1,300,000 barrels of the world’s dirtiest oil per day to refineries in Texas), unless Canada stops extracting this oil it will still be exported to the US through an existing, smaller, Phase 1 pipeline (which already carries 435,000 barrels to Illinois.) Here is an interactive map of this proposed expansion;

Canada must stop subsidizing this extraction of tar sands' oil. At present, Ottawa provides over $1 billion per year in subsidies to this polluting industry even though they signed a commitment to phase them out them (at the 2009 G20 meeting in Pittsburgh). (The 2011 federal budget will supposedly reduce these subsidies by a minuscule $15 million in 2011-2012 and $30 million in 2012-2013.)

We must stop promoting the tar sands as a source of ethical oil and demand that all extraction be stopped.

For those of you who are interested in joining me and fellow Canadians in this protest you can sign up at


* “I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when...the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal." - Barack Obama’s presidential acceptance speech, Chicago, November 2008. 

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