Interfaith Power & Light (IPL) strongly opposes the mining and exploitation of Canada’s tar sands oil because of the unprecedented risk it poses to Earth’s climate.
IPL also stands in opposition of the oil’s transportation across America’s heartland, such as in the Keystone XL , Dakota Access and Alberta Clipper pipelines, to ports for refining and distribution to overseas markets.
IPL is joining with other faith leaders and environmental organizations in asking President Obama to deny Transcanada’s permit to construct the pipeline. IPL’s concerns are backed by the newly released, taxpayer supported, National Climate Assessment report. It’s the product of thirteen top federal agencies and their scientists, backed by a $2 billion dollar annual budget. It was produced for the president and Congress to inform policy decisions. Deciding the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline is just such a decision. According to the report, climate change will have severe impacts on ecosystems, infrastructures, and human health if we continue on the current path of heavy fossil fuel consumption. It also underscores that the decisions made today will determine how much climate change will disrupt the future.
The majority of confirmed tar sands deposits are under the boreal forests of Alberta, Canada. The boreal forests represent 25 percent of the intact, original forests on the planet and are a global resource for filtering the Earth’s water, removing carbon from the atmosphere, and regulating the climate. This region of Alberta is also home to the First Nations indigenous peoples of Canada, who are greatly affected by the mining of tar sands. They are also standing in opposition to the further development of tar sands because of the harm that occurs to their native lands, the animals that share the land, and their traditional hunting and fishing economy.
The mining of tar sands is a resource intensive process that emits up to three times the carbon of conventional oil. The production of tar sands to liquid fuel requires natural gas to create steam that literally melts the tar off the sand. The recovered crude then needs to be refined. In the end, for every barrel of syncrude produced, around four barrels of water and 1,200 cubic feet of natural gas are required. The dirty wastewater is often pumped into enormous holding reservoirs, which pollute the environment with toxic substances that are dangerous to human health and wildlife populations. Communities located in proximity to current tar sands operations have experienced elevated cancer rates.
The focus on obtaining liquid fuel from tar sands is a serious and costly diversion from America’s responsibility to lead the way toward a clean energy future. We cannot afford to become dependent on yet another dirty source of fuel. Instead,IPL urges a focus on transportation solutions such as better vehicle fuel efficiency, alternative fuels, more funding for mass transit, and electric cars.