Alternet has an encouraging article from Vermont.
March 5th was Town Meeting Day in Vermont and at least 29 towns, including Montpelier and Burlington, overwhelmingly passed resolutions opposing the proposed transport of tar sands oil through our region. The resolutions also supported efforts to eliminate oil derived from the Alberta tar sands from fuel supplies across New England.
We know that tar sands mining is a massively destructive business, and it has been called the most environmentally damaging project on earth. Tens of thousands of acres of Alberta’s northern forest are leveled in the extraction process, which puts 3 – 5 times as much carbon pollution into the atmosphere as conventional oil drilling. James Hansen, one of our most respected climate scientists, says that if oil from the tar sands is added to the effects of burning coal, it is “essentially game over” for the earth’s climate system.
The material that is mined from the tar sands is nothing like liquid crude oil: it is highly acidic, corrosive, and 40 – 70 times thicker. To transport it through a pipeline requires dilution with toxic chemicals such as n-hexane and benzene that damage the human nervous system and can cause cancer.
Vermonters are also examining the lessons of a 2010 tar sands pipeline rupture in southwestern Michigan, which dumped more than a million gallons of tar sands residues into the Kalamazoo River and forced the relocation of 150 families. The clean-up, still unfinished, is the most expensive inland oil clean-up in history, costing nearly $800 million so far.
In most cases, towns also voted to investigate where our own fuel supplies come from, with a goal of phasing out purchases from refineries that use tar sands-derived oil.
The Alberta Tar Sands are far away, but the impacts of mining there are global in scope. Vermont voters have resoundingly supported efforts throughout North America and beyond to prevent the continued expansion of the tar sands catastrophe, along with worldwide campaigns to expose and challenge all forms of “extreme energy” extraction.