For Immediate Release
August 31, 2011 (Washington, D.C.) - The Council of Canadians, the Indigenous Environmental Network and Greenpeace Canada presented a letter addressed to Ambassador Gary Doer at the Canadian embassy in Washington, D.C. today demanding an end to lobbying in favour of the Keystone XL pipeline.
"Ambassador Doer has publicly recognized he is actively lobbying for Keystone XL," says Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, who will be present to help deliver the letter. "To pitch the tar sands as the answer to American energy security ignores the destruction [it creates] and turns away from the sustainable energy future Canada and the U.S. need."
In May 2011, Alberta saw one of the largest pipeline bursts in the province's history when 28,000 barrels of crude oil spilled into the local ecosystem near Peace River. In the past year, TransCanada's first Keystone pipeline has spilled crude oil at least 12 times and contaminated water, air and soil in nearby communities. The spills resulted in catastrophic effects on wildlife and the quality of life of nearby farmers, landowners and Indigenous communities.
First Nations delegates with the Indigenous Environmental Network will also be present outside the Canadian Embassy. They have come to Washington to share their testimonies of the damaging social and health effects the tar sands are having on their communities.
"With the onslaught of tar sands exploitation, we are seeing more people developing serious respiratory illnesses. People of all ages are developing types of cancer that we have never seen in our area. As we have see the tar sands industry expand," said Gitz Crazyboy of Fort McMurray, in the heart of the Alberta tar sands. Crazyboy continues, "We what we see is alarming -- we are witnessing the complete destruction of the boreal forest as tar sands operations expand."
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would carry tar sands oil from Canada to the U.S. The controversial 2,736-km project threatens to pollute freshwater supplies in America's agricultural heartland and spike air pollution in the Gulf Coast. The pipeline would cross Indian-U.S. treaty territories, water aquifers, rivers, grasslands, cultural sites and ecological sensitive areas. Tar sands operations and its associated infrastructure projects are consistently violating constitutionally recognized treaty rights in both Canada and the United States.
Melina Laboucan-Massimo, a climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada who is from Alberta said, "The Keystone pipeline is an act of aggression to the plants, wildlife and people who live in its path. We are proud to add our voice to the hundreds of brave activists who have peacefully opposed this destructive project over the past several days."
Two weeks of protests in Washington, D.C. will end on Sept. 3 before transitioning to Ottawa for a one-day event endorsed by the Council of Canadians, Indigenous Environmental Network and Greenpeace Canada on Sept. 26. People across Canada have been invited to participate by signing on to the civil disobedience protest at ottawaaction.ca.
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